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RW -- Brief History

The sport of racewalking has its' inception in England, as do many of our sports (fishing, hunting, boxing, rowing, horse racing and trotting). It was first known as pedestrianism, dating back to 1589 when Robert Carey walked from London to Berwick to win a large wager. Competitive walking can be traced to the late 16th century or early 17th century. Professional pedestrianism had very few rules. The mode of movement was defined as "fair heel and toe". Pedestrians of the 18th century raced against time, at the turn of the 19th century man was racing against man.

By 1820, walking contests began in America. Celebrity walkers would draw crowds of 25,000 from town to town. Both men and women competed in long distance events for money. During this decade it is possible that the "National Postal One Hour" racewalking championship was born.

Athletic clubs arrived in America in the 1860s. Young men with leisure time developed a concern for their sedentary lifestyle. College students of the 1870s began to develop an interest in track and field events. Intercollegiate Athletic Association (IAA) was organized in 1876. The modern Olympic Games took place in Athens in 1896.

Due to the increased interest in racewalking, the event was placed on the program in the 1908 Olympic Games in London. The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) was formed in 1913 to regulate and supervise amateur athletics including racewalking. Racewalking for women received official status when the women's 10Km was included in the 1992 Olympic Games. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the women's distance was increased to 20Km.

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