Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, April 7, 2013
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2013
What would you think if you were invited to enter a race that would pay you a one thousand dollar prize for being first to finish, but you were warned that you would be disqualified if you actually ran?
The easy answer is that you would think it was an April Fool’s Day race. But it was not a joke. My nephew is a teacher in Kuwait, one of several teachers from around the world who travel far for a new experience in a foreign land. He has been in Kuwait for several years and before that he taught in Thailand.
He’s a runner, but more of the Hash House Harrier type that enjoy the fun of the run before the fun of the beer drinking. In Kuwait the only beer is the non-alcoholic type but that is another adjustment he’s made living in a culture far different than our own.
According to nephew Jeff, the race was a walkathon that featured the aforementioned thousand dollar prize for first. In all about $10,000.00 in cash was awarded as well as two new cars, video cameras, cell phones and gift certificates. Well worth the effort to win an age division or overall award if you can just figure out how to do it without a dq.
Women, some wearing full face coverings, were in a five kilometer race and men did an 8K. The men started a half hour earlier than the women and three kilometers behind women’s start. This is pretty effective in separating the sexes according to Jeff.
“It’s an odd event,” writes Jeff, “because running is strictly forbidden. If one of the many referees sees you breaking into a jog, your number will be jotted down and you will be disqualified.”
Referees are stationed all along the race course so the peril of cheating is very real. Two leaders of an age group were spotted throwing elbows at one another’s face as they jostled to be first at the finish and both were disqualified. The winner of the event was clearly a trained race walker, and not a Kuwaiti. Jeff described him as about “six foot five with a strange muscular structure that made his hips swivel unnaturally”. Those who have watched a good racewalker will recognize the description.
In Kuwait Jeff has explained in emailed letters to family back in the states, that the people are so wealthy from their country’s oil income that they can afford to eat well and do none of the manual labor; it is done by foreign workers. Because of that they equate exercise with manual labor. Consequently the people of Kuwait are obese beyond anything that we have seen in this country. Their diabetes rate is 23%; the third highest rate in the world and the highest in the Middle East. The walking “race” was an effort to encourage exercise to help stem this epidemic.
RYAN STEIDL MK5K NEXT SATURDAY
We can be sure that no racewalker will win the Ryan Steidl Memorial MK5K next Saturday, April 13, in Denville. After seven years of starting the race on Diamond Spring Road and finishing on Pocono road, the loop course has been abandoned and a new out-and- back course will be used.
The new course will now start on Pocono Road by St. Clare’s Hospital and run out to Old Boonton Road where it will make an eventual turn around for the run back to the finish on Pocono Road, or more precisely off Pocono Road in the parking area that serves the hospital complex. It will be essentially a flat course except for a short hill on the return onto Pocono Road.
The MK5K is now dedicated to Ryan Steidl who lost his life in a pedestrian car accident while training for the race in 2011. On the race website, http://www.mhrd.k12.nj.us/mk/mk5k/ is a complete list of safety tips for runners, walkers and cyclists that the organizers hope will help prevent the kind of accident that took Steidl’s life.
Registration opens at 6:45 a.m. and the start is at 8:30 a.m. It is a 500 point New Balance Grand Prix event.
Publish only when space permits.
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at www.usatfnj.org or at www.raceforum.com for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at firstname.lastname@example.org.