by Ken Stewart

I'll know what to do when that gun goes off on that Saturday morning in July: move on out from the starting line! I'm not sure that my legs will know what to do. Over many years I have participated in dozens of foot races. With the one exception of the Empire State Building Run Up (documented in my award-winning article, "Runners High," which ran in the May 1996 issue), they have all been outdoors, not inside a shopping mall. But that's not the primary difference this time. It is that this time I must be sure the lead foot touches down before the trailing foot goes airborne. I understand that is the one distinction between road racing and race walking.

That starting gun will get all of us who have signed up for the 2010 ACB Walk, many of us accompanied by a sighted guide, down a long corridor past retail shops, through three right-angle turns, and right back where we all started from ... and then some of us will do it all again without stopping ... and then, I hope at least a few of us will do it still another time! I am advised that each lap adds up to about a mile, so the total of three miles should be well within my endurance capacity.

The body motions required to race walk will be new for me, but not racing with a sighted guide at the other end of a strip of white cloth about two feet long. For many years that is how I have been road racing, so that part should come easy. I use a white cloth, usually a piece of towel, for several reasons. The conspicuousness of it is at times visible to me, reinforcing the tactile information I get constantly from the directional tugging. I always want to know where my guide is so I don't collide with him! The conspicuousness of that tether is also, I hope, a way of making our linkage more obvious to other nearby racers. One additional advantage of that type of connecting material is its adaptability to its secondary purpose, a piece of toweling to soak up some of the sweat on my brow after the finish line! I usually put a short slip near each end of the cloth, so that during the race both my guide and I can simply keep the tether around a wrist, allowing some swinging of that arm and not requiring any hand gripping of it.

In my road races there is some verbal communication too. My guide alerts me as we approach an intersection turn, or a rough patch of pavement, or the exact location of another runner we are about to overtake. In this event around the air-conditioned Arizona Mills Mall, I shall be glad to hear some narration from my guide about the shop window displays we are passing.

There is still time to sign up for the 2010 ACB Walk, either to participate on site or as a virtual walker. Registration and making pledges can be done by telephoning Alisha Clausen in the Minnesota office, (612) 332-3242, or by going to the walk web site, Questions about the event can be directed to Dan Dillon at (615) 874-1223, or [email protected] The bus going to the walk site will depart the hotel promptly at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday, July 10th. Let's all do our part to make this a great fundraiser for ACB.

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