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My name is Phil Howell and I am your host at eRaceWalk.com. This page tells you a bit about me, about Icabod (my skinny sidekick), and about eRaceWalk.com.
ABOUT ME: In the fall of 1992, after 20 years of running (including marathons), I learned the fundamentals of race walking so that I could effectively take fast-walking breaks during my longest runs. Within six weeks, I had race walked (without running) a half marathon, given up running, and wished that I had found race walking many years earlier. In all those years of running, I had never felt a "runner's high" that even began to match the "walker's high" I felt when race walking. And as a runner, I had also never experienced the camaraderie and sense of family that I found among race walkers.
Since then, I have participated in almost all aspects of race walking--including racing; judging; putting on races; volunteering for local, national, and internations events (including lap counting at the 1996 Olympic Race Walks); editing local and national newsletters; creating race walking Web sites; and teaching a few rookies how to wiggle correctly. I have been taught by, encouraged by, and repeatedly lapped by some of America's and Canada's top walkers (some of whom I only recognize from their back side--going away).
I love to race walk. Now in my late 60s, I find great pleasure in "floating" along at good (for me) speed for 5-15 miles, and spend most of my racing time doing unjudged half and full marathons. (I prefer longer walks and most local race walks are no more than 5K or 10K.) I enjoy my fellow race walkers--from novices to world-class athletes. I am fascinated by race walking's Pedestrian history, and I like to watch any-and-all race walks, in person or on video (hooray for YouTube!). But, I am most fascinated by the technical and style aspects of being a good race walker. Like golf, race walking seems so simple to describe yet so hard to do. It is my fascination with race walking technique and style that brings me to this project.
What skills I have come from having been a serious student of the art and science of photography since the early 1960s, from having worked with computers in almost every capacity (repairman, programmer, manager, user) since 1963, from having created Web pages since the mid 1990s, and from the enjoyment I get in using Photoshop and other graphic software in my digital darkroom to restore old photographs, enhance new ones, manufacture a few that never really existed, and create animations out of raw materials I find all about me.
eRaceWalk.com is my attempt to bring my skills to bear in helping to support the exercise and sport I love. If you like (or dislike) what I've done, let me know. If you have comments, suggestions (good or bad), send them to me using the Contact page. If you find race walking images (especially videos) that you think I might find useful, please let me know. I am always looking for new and better information. If I do not hear from any of you, I can still monitor the traffic to this site (or lack thereof) through my Web space provider. In any case, I have learned a lot in putting this site together, and I will personally use it as I try to become a better race walker.
I want to mention Elaine Ward and her North American Racewalking Foundation. In working with her as co-editor of the now-defunct "U.S. Racewalking Journal" newsletter, and as Webmaster of her NARF Web site, I have met a lot of very interesting people and learned a lot about the background activities needed to support race walking in the United States and around the world. I sincerely thank her for her long-term support of race walking, and her unwaivering support of my efforts.
Icabod Jr., my new demonstration assistant shown on the right, is based on measurements taken from photographs and videos. At my request, he can imitate the best and worst race walkers in the world--and everyone in between. He can even run. He is fun to work with, is a tireless worker, and is a WHOLE LOT thinner than his boss. I thank him for joining my team.
Since Icabod Sr. (shown on the left) started walking in 1998, I figure he has walked almost 8,500 miles--nonstop (at 68 steps per minute and with a 1½-inch step length). While his speed ain't so hot, I assume his long, legal, non-stop distance more than qualifies him as an ultra-distance race walker. (I am also assuming he was walking while no one was looking.)
A FEW LOOSE ENDS
- "Race walk" and "racewalk" are both used in popular literature about our sport. While I first participated in walking races as a "racewalker" and am more comfortable with the one-word variation, the two-word variation has the historical edge and is used by most athletics organizations around the world. While this Web site uses the two-word variation, I remind readers that entering "race walk" or "racewalk" into the search window of some Internet search engines will yield somewhat different results.
- I know that race walking is an "event" in the "sport of athletics." I also know that "event in the sport of athletics" is too long a phrase to use often. Please excuse me again if I choose to talk about "the sport of race walking." It feels so much more comfortable.
- I wish English had better gender-neutral, single-person pronouns and adjectives. I get so tired of writing "he or she" and "his or her." Based on limited research, I find I am not alone. The question is whether it is better to be gramatically correct or socially correct. In life, I have learned that if I am damned if I do and damned if I don't, I should do whatever I please. Use of the feminine singular form is no better than use of the masculine singular form and, quite frankly, adds a bit more discomfort as it continually calls attention to the failure of English to properly allow gender neutrality. The third-person plural form (they, them, their) is incorrect and clumsy. Some people resort to artificial creations (e.g., zie, zim, zir, zirs, zimself) but I find them to be seldom used and very unclear. I even thought about using he/him/his on odd pages and she/her/hers on even pages--but then someone would surely count the pages and report any discrepancy. +++ As I built most of this site, I resorted to using the masculine singular form (he, him, his) throughout. Having gotten this site on line, I am now in the process of reworking many of the pages to eliminate the need to use personal pronouns, or to make the writing more personal by using "you/your/yours" when appropriate. Some might see my concern as just so much "political correctness." As a race walker, I see it as appropriate recognition of the "fast women" I so often chase--and so seldom catch.
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