GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Ben Shorey of Team USA finished ninth in the men’s 50k race walk in four hours, 33 minutes, 25 seconds at the XVI Pan American Games Saturday.
David Talcott (Owego, N.Y.), the oldest competitor in the field at 51 years ago, was disqualified after picking up a red card at the 6,500-meter mark.
The mile high altitude (elevation 5,138 feet), coupled with 94 percent humidity, proved detrimental in the 25-lap race contested on a 2,000-meter course along Avenue Vallarta by the Arcos de Guadalajara Monument.
“I felt fine. The whole first 20k I’m just hitting splits saying this is easy,” said Shorey, 28, who resides in Kenosha, Wis. “But when I hit 21k it literally felt like I threw a 20-pound backpack on and then I actually started having a hard time breathing and I said to myself ‘yea, that would be the altitude. I still have 30k to go. This is not good.’”
Shorey had set a personal best of 4:16.01 en route to winning the 2011 50k race walk national championship in Tustin, Calif., Jan. 23.
Of the 16 race walkers that started, three did not finish, while Talcott was among the four who were disqualified.
Spurred by the partisan cheering crowd, Mexico’s Horacio Nava and Jose Ojeda captured the gold (3:48.58) and silver (3:49.16) medals, respectively. Jaime Quiyuch from Guatamela earned the bronze medal in 3:50.33.
Both Shorey and Talcott were quick to praise the Mexican crowd for their support.
“I have to say this was close to the best crowd I’ve ever experienced in this event,” said Shorey. “By the middle of the race, I’m sure we were four-deep all the way down. I think other than cheering for their team - Mexico - I think they cheered for us second most. It was unbelievable.”
“The crowd was just amazing,” added Talcott. “The people down here are great. They just love the sport.”
Pan American track and field competition concludes Sunday morning with the men’s marathon.
Shorey’s splits: 10k (48:50) 20k (1:37.52) 30k (2:30.50) 40k (3:30.56).
TEAM USA QUOTES
Ben Shorey (Osborn, Maine), men’s 50k race walk, ninth (4:33.25): “I have to say this was close to the best crowd I’ve ever experienced in this event. This course was a little longer so they (crowd) were a little more spread out. By the middle of the race, I’m sure we were four-deep all the way down. I think other than cheering for their team - Mexico - I think they cheered for us second most. It was unbelievable.
“I was a little under informed - part of that is probably my fault. I didn’t realize it was at altitude. I had been training pretty well, so I was hoping to shoot for the ‘B’ (Olympic) standard and then I found out we were going to be at altitude, but I got an offer to go to Colorado Springs to prepare for altitude training as much as possible and that was a great experience. We were told basically on day one, we were given a conversion of the stats on what it is and it was a little disheartening when it said four hours plus of racing and you’re going to be at least 16 minutes slower and that’s if you’ve adjusted to the altitude.
“I felt fine. The whole first 20k I’m just hitting splits saying this is easy. But when I hit 21k it literally felt like I threw a 20-pound backpack on and then I actually started having a hard time breathing and I said to myself ‘yea, that would be the altitude. I still have 30k to go.h Tis is not good.’
“But the crowd helped so much. I had a guy from Chile (Edward Araya) in front of me for a while and I was actually pacing off him and then he got disqualified. The next guys that were close were like 150, 200 meters away and they were too far away for me to try pace off of them. So I basically walked the whole thing by myself which also was disappointing. Otherwise, the crowd was awesome. Everybody here has been awesome. This is probably the best I’ve been treated anywhere.”
Dave Talcott, Owego, N.Y., disqualified at 6,500m: “The course was really nice with wide turns; anything a walker could dream for. The crowd was just amazing. I felt I would do a little better. I was disqualified just once before in high school back in 1977 and since then I’ve really been clean as far as race walking technique. So I was shocked when I started getting calls today for not straightening my legs.
“I did the first lap exactly like I wanted to do. I wanted to walk fast..so I was right on pace on the first lap but on the second lap it was taking me a little more effort than I thought it was going to. You could feel it (the altitude) a little bit, not necessarily physically but the time reflected it.
“This has been a once in a lifetime dream. it’s my first national team. For me its a dream come true. The people down here are great. They love the sport. I came down here as a proud American. I came to represent the USA. I feel like in some levels maybe I let them down a little. But I did what I could.”