Tue, Jun. 26, 2012 - [Women's Track & Field]
Katie Burnett placed 76th at last month's World Race Walking Cup
Oskaloosa--Lady Statesmen track alum Katie Burnett recently competed overseas and is the race of her life away from making a return trip across the pond for the biggest event of her career.
Last month, Burnett traveled to Russia for a week and on May 13, she concluded the trip by facing off against the best on the planet at the World Race Walking Cup in Saransk. Four days after arriving in the country, she finished 76th out of 106 walkers in the 20-kilometer event with a time of one hour, 46 minutes, 11 seconds.
Elena Lashmanova of Russia claimed the title at 1:27:38, while Miranda Melville paced a group of five American competitors in 49th place at 1:39:14.
The Cup was the final warm-up for Burnett, who will next be taking on the best in red, white, and blue at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. The 20K race will be contested Sunday morning, July 1 at 9:30 a.m. (Central Time). Due to contractual obligations with NBC, the race will not be shown live on television or on the internet, but it is possible the network may show part of the event in its daily recap beginning at 6 p.m. (Central Time).
To qualify for the London Olympics, Burnett will either need to place in the top three, if the top three all meet the "A" standard of 1:33:30, which no American woman has this year. The other option is that she will need to win the event with a time under the "B" standard of 1:38:00. Burnett's top 20K time is 1:40:42.
The following is an unofficial blog from Katie, talking about the World Cup and the Olympics.
Okay, so there are time standards for getting into the Olympics. The "A" Standard for the women's 20k walk is 1:33:30. Up to 3 can go if they have that standard. However, there are currently no women with the "A" Standard. There is then the "B" Standard of 1:38:00. Only one can go with the "B" Standard and there are currently 6 women who have that standard. So, it really is going to come down to whoever wins will go. And honestly, it could be anyone who is able to walk under the standard come race day.
I do not yet have a standard, but I'm close. My best walk in the last year for 20k is 1:40:42 from back in October. I had some setbacks over the winter and struggled with consistent training. Still, I got close to that time (1:41:18) when I qualified on April 1st for the World Race Walking Cup. It was 38 degrees with rain and a bit of wind, so it felt difficult to even move at that race. I came in fourth place and was exultant. The top 5 made the team.
Then a complete turnaround in Russia. It was hot. Unbearably hot. Almost 90 degrees and sunny for the women's race at 1:20 in the afternoon. So basically there was no shade on the course at all. Some of the newer laid asphalt out in the last staging area was so hot that when I did my hip swings, my shoes actually left imprints in the asphalt. It was a 2k loop (down a road, big turnaround, back down the same road, then back around another turnaround). The course was not a flat road. It was on an incline. Not a big one (I think someone said there was a 9 meter different in height at each end), but you felt it. Especially with the wind. You felt the wind against you probably 3/4 of the way "up" and then the last 1/4 of the way "down". It was definitely a confusing moment when you realize there is a headwind at both ends of the course in opposite directions.
I took water at both stations every lap and when I went by USA's aid table. I even got some ice put in my hat a few times during the race. I just couldn't cool off. It was a struggle for everyone. Most competitors were several minutes off their best times. A few people collapsed. Compared to a lot of people, the percentage off from my time at the trials race wasn't that bad. I still felt disappointed in my time, but under the circumstances, I probably did about as good as I could. With only 4 days in Russia before my race and an 11 hour time difference from Washington, I was still having trouble sleeping. Often waking up at 4:30 or 5:30 in the morning and not being able to fall back asleep. My legs suffered a lot from the long flight and sitting in the train station half the day waiting for our overnight train from Moscow to Saransk. I got my legs massaged every day, but they still weren't 100% race day. I got maybe 4 hours of sleep the night before my race and then a 20-minute nap mid-morning.
If it wasn't for the crowd, I may not have been able to catch as many people as I did. The crowd was incredible. They recognized the big USA on my uniform and would chant "U-S-A! U-S-A!" all together, especially on the turnarounds. They cheered for a lot of other countries too as long as none of the Russian athletes were nearby :) I could hear other people in the crowd shout out "America!" and "Amerikanski!" and "Amerikanka!" The latter two being "American" in Russian (first one is the masculine form, second one the feminine form). I spent the month before the race learning as much Russian as I could. I got the alphabet down and could read the cyrillic, but I still didn't know too many words. We had translators for our team and they were great! They helped us out a lot.
I'm sure the whole team felt very welcome to Saransk. We really had an exceptional group and outstanding USA team coaches and manager. The people in Saransk were great. At the opening ceremonies for the race, they put on an amazing show. Afterwards, people saw me in my USA gear and asked to have their picture taken with me. I felt like a celebrity. It was all very surreal. I had a lot of fun and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I was there for less than a week, but all the memories could fill months.
I certainly hope this is not the last of my Team USA experiences, and it shouldn't be if I am able to continue to improve. Since Russia, my training has been the most consistent it has ever been since I set out with my goal of making it to the Olympic Trials two and a half years ago. And as a result, I have gotten stronger and my times in training have started to drop. It's going to be a fight for that Olympic berth. I know it's a long shot, but that doesn't mean I won't put up a good fight.