Los Alamos athlete Ruth Doyle said her gold medal win was a surprise. The March 5 event was at the U.S.A. Track and Field (USATF) Masters Indoor Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Doyle completed the 1500-meter racewalk in 11.09 minutes but figured she got second place since another athlete finished in under nine minutes. However, the competition’s rules prevented that athlete from receiving first place. Doyle earned her first place finish in her age category, which was 60-64 years old.
“I was really surprised,” she said. Doyle did not enter the track and field competition with a desire to beat her fellow racers. In fact, the person Doyle said she competes against is herself.
In each competition she enters, Doyle said she strives to do better than she did in her last race. “That’s what is important to me, that I’m seeing progress.”
It was the first time that Doyle had competed in the USATF Masters Indoor Championships but she had participated in another USATF event Feb.12, the Great Southwest Track and Field Classic. The competition is primarily for middle school and high school students but did offer a 1-mile racewalk for adults. Doyle finished third.
She described the experience as “humbling.” “Those kids are fast,” she said.
Racewalking, Doyle explained, is similar to speed walking but unlike speed walking, the knee on the leading leg has to be straight until the walker has completed an entire step. Also, one foot has to be in contact with the ground.
To prepare for this event, Doyle attended regular meetings of the New Mexico Racewalkers Club as well as taking 4-to 8-mile walks on weekends. She also attended Jazzercise and yoga classes. It was through the New Mexico Racewalkers Club that Doyle learned about the USATF Masters Indoor Championship. She explained the club’s coach encouraged members to attend the event.
Doyle has been a member of the racewalking club for three years. She was introduced to it by a walker she met while participating in the local Hadassah chapter’s Run for Her Life race, which raises money for breast cancer research.
Doyle said she enjoys the sport because it is lower impact than running and therefore easier on her knees. Still, she gets a good workout. “It’s a weight-bearing exercise and it’s a really good cardiovascular workout,” she said.
Doyle said she also enjoys the social aspects of the club and the sport.
USATF is a national, nonprofit organization that provides track and field events to athletes of all ages. The competition Doyle competed in was for athletes age 30 and older. Athletes competed in every track and field event from shot-put and pole vault to meter dash races and long jump. There is no qualifer event to go into the competition. Doyle said the event is open to a lot of people.
“My take away is sports don’t stop after high school or college. It is really life-long,” she said.
For instance, two men in their 90s competed in the 400-meter dash in the competition in Albuquerque. “It was so inspiring to watch them run,” Dolye said, adding she thought as she watched them, “if I can do this at their age, I’ll be really happy.”
She added, the event doesn’t require participants to be elite athletes. “You don’t have to be elite,” she said. “You can be ‘Joe-Schmo’ and still have a place on the track at these events.”
Los Alamos residents will have an opportunity to try out racewalking for themselves. The New Mexico Racewalkers are hosting a clinic 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 30 at the Betty Ehart Senior Center. The fee is $25 and participants can meet two coaches who are certified in race walking. Look for more dtails about the event in a special tab called, Living Healthy In Northern New Mexico, in Thursday’s print edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post. To register for the clinic, visit nmracewalkers.org.