Report on World Masters Athletics 10K Team Race Walk Championships in Muscat, Oman
March 04, 2022
By: Brian Keaveney
Vice President Competition WMA
For the first time in the history of the WMA, World Athletics (formerly IAAF) asked if we WMA would join with them at a non stadia championship. Antti Pihlakoski from Finland, member of WA Council, and Pierce O’Callaghan of WA spearheaded this initiative supported by Seb Coe, WA president. WMA Council approved this under the leadership of our president Margit Jungmann. Joe Rafferty was the head of the LOC who with his team made this all happen in Muscat.
On March 04, WMA athletes were able to compete on the same course and with the same officials as the open athletes of World Athletics.
WMA rose to the challenge of putting together this event. We had only a few months to promote the Team RW Championship on our website, get entries and prepare everything for two races. As it turned out, just over 40 athletes from all over the world applied and were accepted by their respective country WMA affiliate. The low entries were a result of the European Masters Indoor Championships in Braga, Portugal just finishing and the ongoing Pandemic. Because of the low entries, the WMA events became one starting at 7 pm on the evening of March 4th, and no actual relay took place.
Nearly all athletes showed in Oman. We had to deny the entry of one Russian athlete due to the war in Ukraine. I distributed bibs supplied by the LOC. The women’s bibs were sponsored by Asics and the men by Seiko. The LOC also very graciously supplied black backpacks to each athlete.
The championship consisted of one race with three events within it.
1. 10K five-year age group race
2. Mixed Team 10K (one man and one woman from the same country in age groups 35-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+) **
3. Team Race (made up of three male or female athletes from the same country)
** The Mixed Team Event is the WMA’s first attempt to have men and women compete as a team together. It was to be a relay but the relay was cancelled and all entrants in it became part of the 10K and did not need to have an exchange.
This made the race more interesting since there were many medals to win. The timing chips were distributed in the Call Room just before the race start. Everyone was led in style to the start line where athletes had their last chance to warm up. As the starting area was wide under the World Athletics gantry, coaches and supporters took pictures of all assembled. We had a large contingent of Iranian athletes of all ages. They were the most excited of all. Because of religion, I allowed tight leggings to be worn by the women. The RW judges were informed and adjusted to my ruling. The course was a 2K loop with the start/finish line set up such that it was not at one end but at 1/3 of the way back from the 2nd turn.
The race started as one wave just after dusk in the glow of the setting sun. Once the race was off, we at the finish line had no view of the athletes as they disappeared into the route under dim lighting.
When the athletes reappeared, they had all spread out.
The first athlete to reappear was Dmitry Babenko M45 of Canada. He and Rodrigo Moreno Munar of Columbia M55 and Jay Prakash of India M35 had 2K splits almost the same at 10:35 minutes. The top seven finishers, who were all male, finished within 1 hour. The first woman to cross the finish line was Marina Cavello W55 of Greece who finished beside her walking mate Dimitrios Kelepouris M55 in a time of just over 1:02. All the top walkers had very consistent splits. The splits were recorded at each kilometre mark.
The second and third women to cross the finish line were: Marina Crivello of Canada W40, and Heather Carr W70 of Australia. Both had a very fluid walking style.
The oldest man to finish did it in an incredible time of 1:01:53. Andrew Jamieson M75 is a multi record and award winner from Australia.
All finishers were thankful for the opportunity to compete on the world stage. Some when interviewed complained about the slope of the course and the heat still radiating up from the pavement.
There was a full complement of officials counting laps and the Seiko matts recorded all splits at the finish line and out on the course.
The Mixed Team Awards was dominated by our new Iranian race walkers, winning third in age 35+ division, second in 50+ and first in 60+. The fastest mixed team was 35+ Team Canada made up of Marina Crivello and Dmitry Babenko with a total time of 1:55.29.
This is the WMA’s newest event, which we hope to spread to non stadia events in our indoor and outdoor championships in the 10K road race.
We had only 5 teams formed in the 3 athlete team awards. Iran teams won W35+, W50+ and 2nd in M35+.
Canada took the gold in M35+ with a three person total time of 2:52:07.
The day after the championship, each athlete was sent the complete results by email and told when to show up for the awards. The WMA Council and the WMA website were also sent complete results for distribution.
All athletes who won medals came to the awards presentation.
Admittedly the presentation was chaotic, mostly because of the language barriers, but eventually all medals were distributed along with some gifts supplied by the LOC made of pottery. The athletes had a great time. Many open athletes stayed to watch the WMA awards.
I wish to thank the volunteer announcer for the excellent job of reading the names of the winners. I presented the awards on the stage just vacated by the WA winners. My assistant was His Excellency Mohammed Rohani of the Iran Embassy. He had asked to attend as there were so many Iranians to be given medals.
All finishers will be sent a WMA Certificate acknowledging their participation, place, and time. This will be done by email. Send inquiries to myself, Brian Keaveney (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Congratulations to everyone who competed, you really are an inspiration and of course huge congratulations to all the winners.