Competitive Walking

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Walking, Competitive


a type of track and field athletics. The gait used in competitive walking differs from the ordinary walking step in that the supporting leg must be straightened while in the vertical position. Competitive walking differs from running in that the body must not lose contact with the ground. Infringement of these rules disqualifies the contestant.

The speed of competitive walking is 2–2.5 times faster than that of ordinary walking because the strides are longer (105–115 cm) and more frequent (180–200 per min). Competitions are held on stadium tracks or asphalt roads. The standard length of the track is 10–50 km for men (in official international competitions, 20 km and 50 km), 3–10 km for juniors, and, in some countries, 3–20 km for women.

Walking competitions were first held in the second half of the 19th century, first in Great Britain and later in Canada, the USA, Sweden, France, Germany, and other countries; they were first held in Russia in 1892. Since 1908 they have been included in the program of the Olympic Games, except for the 1928 Olympics, and since 1934 they have been part of European track and field competitions, and since 1936 they have been part of the USSR championships. The Lugano Cup Competition, held since 1961 in Lugano, Switzerland, is the largest international competition for individual and team walking events. The first world championships in walking were held in 1976 on a 50-km track; the competition was won by V. V. Soldatenko of the USSR.

The countries where competitive walking has been highly developed include the USSR, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Mexico, Great Britain, Italy, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, and Sweden. European championships on a 20-km track have been won by the Soviet athletes N. Ia. Smaga and V. S. Golubnichii, and championships on a 50-km track have been won by V. V. Ukhov, E. I. Maskinskov, and V. V. Soldatenko. Soviet champions of the Olympic Games include L. V. Spirin (20 km; 1956) and Golubnichii (20 km; 1960, 1968). The Soviet teams have been trained and coached by P. I. Kozlovskii, S. A. Lobastov, N. G. Ozolin, V. I. Poliakov, and G. I. Chernyshev.

Table 1. Walking records
20 km ...............1 hr 23 min 29.8 sec A. V. Solomin (1977)1 hr 24 min 45.0 sec B. Kannenberg (FRG, 1975)
50km ...............4 hr 3 min 42.6 sec V. V. Soldatenko (1972)3 hr 56 min 51.4 sec B. Kannenberg (FRG, 1975)

In foreign countries some of the strongest competitors of the 1970’s included the Olympic champions C. Hohne and P. Frenkel of the GDR, B. Kannenberg of the FRG, and D. Bautista of Mexico.

Table 1 shows the records for the USSR and the world for the two standard distances as of Oct. 1, 1977 (recorded only for official competitions on a stadium track).


Ukhov V. Sportivnaia khod’ba. Moscow, 1966.
Fruktov A. L. Sportivnaia khod’ba. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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