Discover race walking

Race walking is part of the athletics category of sports. Race walking is walking as fast as possible over a set distance, keeping one foot in contact with the ground at all times. It doesn't require much material and is accessible to all.


The French general public discovered this discipline thanks to Yohann Diniz, star of this sport and world champion, who holds a record of 38'08 over 10 km - that's more than 15.7 kph.

This sport, which requires a certain level of technical skill and mental and physical resources, offers numerous health benefits. Just as for all endurance sports, race walking helps prevent cardiovascular diseases, and its intense nature can help you maintain a healthy weight.


The history of race walking

Race walking originated in 12th-century England, and was inspired by the way military troops used to alternate walking and running when they travelled. The first walking competitions took place at the end of the 18th century in England. The races would last several hours, or even several days.

Modern race walking featured in the Olympic Games for the first time in 1908. But the lack of clear rules and a large number of discrepancies meant it disappeared from the Games in 1928. It was brought back definitively in 1952.


The different race walking competitions

Just like all the disciplines governed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), race walking competitions are divided into several different trials. 

On a national level, there are the 3000 and 5000 m track events, and 10, 20 and 50 km road races. On an international level, the 10, 20 and 50 km events are part of the World Championships, but only the last two feature in the Olympic Games. 

Just like running, there are also ultra race walking events (from 150 to 450 km), which are more a test of human endurance than sporting events.


The main rules in race walking

Two main rules regulate race walking: 

• The first rule requires the supporting leg to be straightened from the moment where the foot touches the ground until the vertical upright position. 

• The second rule is that there should be no loss of contact, which means that one foot must always be touching the ground.

Judges use the human eye to observe the race and ensure neither rule is broken. If a rule is broken, the judge indicates this with a yellow card, and then a red card. If an athlete gets three red cards from three different judges, they are disqualified.