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WHAT IS RACE WALKING? DOUBLE SUPPORT PHASE

Race walking is judged by the human eye and therefore the interpretation of the rules is very subjective. Let's look at each part of the definition in greater detail.

The first part of the definition "Race walking is a progression of steps so taken that the walker makes contact with the ground so that no visible (to the human eye) loss of contact occurs" used to be much simpler. When I was a competitive walker the definition was different, the definition didn't say "to the human eye." There had to be one foot on the ground at all times. So if you looked at a photograph and you saw air, as Malcolm in the Middle's dad would say, under both feet of a race walker you could say that race walker was in violation of the definition of race walking.

Race walkers were required to be in constant contact with the ground and at one point in the stride to have a brief double support phase where both feet are in contact with the ground simultaneously. Walkers with a double support phase can be seen in the following images:

Double Support Phase - Race Walking Double Support Phase - Race Walking Double Support Phase - Race Walking

Those days of absolute certainty are long gone. Now the interpretation of the definition is very subjective. While this is no longer a requirement of race walking, walkers with a double support phase are definitely following the first half of the definition of race walking. 

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Learn more about race walking from Jeff Salvage's groundbreak book and DVD set Race Walk Like a Champion. You can order it in our online store.

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