BEAVERCREEK — World-class race walker Susan Randall learned that her 50-kilometer event would not be held at the Olympic Games and understandably felt pretty disappointed about it.
… and then the Coronavirus hit!
Randall, 45, holds the seventh quickest 50K (31.069 miles) time — 4 hours, 42 minutes, 34 seconds — among U.S. race walkers all time, according to Racewalk.com. She’d been training to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials but then learned that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had decided to drop the 50K event as part of an effort to make race walking more attractive to fans and media.
The IAAF approved the changes in 2019, with the removal of the 50K after the 2020 Olympic Games. Now that the Games have been postponed to 2021, because of the coronavirus, COVID-19, Randall is left without her favorite event.
Instead, a women’s 20-kilometer event (12.4274 miles) will remain in the Games. It’s like telling a marathon runner that they must now begin training for a sprint race.
“Now I can only train for the only event left!” Randall said with a laugh from the Beavercreek Community Park gazebo, maintaining a good social distance and wearing a protective mask. “I can do it, and I will …. but I really liked the 50K!
“I like the 50K, because with my age being older, I have more advantage over the younger people in the event,” Randall says, still laughing. Her positive attitude is infectious. “The longer distance, for us older people is really an advantage.”
Randall still laughed as she described how younger race walkers can rely on their youth and energy to excel at the shorter race walk distances, while the veterans like herself can pace themselves and have a better chance at victory in the lengthy 50K event.
“You get older, you know the difference,” she added with a smile.
Randall said her training will likely remain the same, just at a quicker pace. Fellow Beavercreek resident, and long-distance running standout, Taylor Ewert competes in 20-kilometer race walks, and that hasn’t been lost on Randall.
“She just turned 18, so she qualifies for the Olympic Trials now. That’s the youngest one I know!” Randall said, with the same infectious laugh. “I see her once in a while on the bike trails and her mom. They’re nice people.”
Randall’s top 20K race walk time is 1:40.21, the 81st best time ever among U.S. women.
Remaining positive, Randall says the postponement of the Olympics may enable her to improve her times between now and the 2021 Games.
“With this coronavirus, I’ve been working 40-plus hours at my job, and not just because of the money, but because I feel the need to help people. We have seven truckloads of deliveries to the store every day, and the more people come to the store, the more everything sells out. I just do my part to help,” she said of her job at the Beavercreek-area Target store. “I think some people have bought toilet paper for the whole year long.”
The earliest that she might be able to return to race walking competition might be in July. According to the USA Track & Field website, a 10K event will take place at the Masters Outdoor Championships in Greensboro, N.C. Randall suggests that the next 20K event would probably be later on in the fall.
“Now I’m happy to see that the Olympics are going to be held a year later, because it will give me more time to prepare,” Randall said. “I have a good coach in Andy Drake, and he’ll have me follow his training schedule, just doing what I’ve been doing all these years. That’s the way to do it … It’s time for me to prepare myself!”