US wins 50 km Pan Am Racewalk Cup
Media Contact: Al Heppner
Phone: 619-410-1181
North American Racewalking Institute
March 10, 2003
For immediate release


US wins first ever Pan Am Cup 50 km

Tijuana, Mexico--Philip Dunn's second place Pan Am finish, fourth overall, in the Semana Internacional (Mexican Walk Week) 50 km led the US to the Pan American Cup team title. Dunn walked 4 hours, 15 minutes, 1 second. Spain's Jesus Garcia won the race in 3:46:46; fastest in the world this year. Mexico won the previous 11 Pan Am Cup 50 kms.

Mexico's Omar Zepeda took over the lead at 14 km on the cloudless day and looked very relaxed going through 20 km in 1:30:59. Garcia was 29 seconds back. Americans Curt Clausen (1:34:25) and Dunn (1:34:41) were in the chase pack.

"By 20 km, I could tell I wasn't going to have the kind of race I wanted. At that point it was just a matter of convincing myself to continue. It would have been much easier just to step off (the course)," Dunn said.

Zepeda was able to extend his lead over Garcia, which peaked at 1:18 at 29 km. Meanwhile, Clausen began to really struggle, slowing to 5:30/km before calling it a day at the halfway mark (2:00:18). Dunn continued after reaching 25 km just three seconds behind Clausen.

"I haven't trained for three weeks because of a hamstring injury. It didn't bother me today, but (because of the missed training) I wasn't fast enough. I was over two hours at 25 km, so there was no reason for me to continue because I need the "A" standard. I'm just going to reset and focus on the 50 km in Naumberg (Germany), which is five weeks away," Clausen said.

Zepeda, who was rolling off one kilometer splits in the mid 4:20's, started to slow in the heat after 30 km. After walking his 36th km in 4:57, Zepeda dropped out shortly afterwards. Initially it was announced that Zepeda stopped due to stomach problems, but then Zepeda explained that he thought he had been disqualified. It is very doubtful, however, that he would have been able to withstand a charging Garcia. By the time Zepeda quit, Garcia was well on his was to victory. With walkers fading in the hot sun all over the course, Garcia dropped the hammer, walking averaging just over 4:32 per km for his final 10. As he approached the finish line, Garcia was handed a Mexican flag, which he carried across the tape to the delight of the packed grandstand.

New Zealand's Craig Barrett, who led briefly before Zepeda, stayed consistent throughout to finish second in 3:51:15. Mexico's German Sanchez was third in 4:04:10 and took the Pan Am Individual Gold.

Dunn struggled a bit in the second half, with some late kilometers in the 5:20's, but save Garcia and Berrett, everyone else faded more. The American battled hard, caught the fourth place walker with less than two laps to go, and pumped his fist in elation as he crossed the line. As Dunn walked over to greet his family on the sidelines, the pain of the grueling race was evident in his face.

"My conditioning was pretty close to where I needed to be. I was going for the "A" standard (3:57:00), but I would have needed a perfect day. The harder concrete service (as opposed to asphalt) and the brick road in the middle portion of the course really took its toll. But the crowd was amazing, especially when I was walking with a Mexican walker," Dunn said.

Said Clausen of the conditions, "The heat made for a slow race. Just two walkers got under the "A" standard (or "B" for that matter). This is not the kind of day you wish for when you're reaching for a time goal. Today I needed (good weather)."

Still, Dunn was pleased with the results.

"I was happy with my place finish and that we won as a team. That's always cool."

Theron Kissinger finished 14th (4:58:10) and Bill Vayo 15th (5:16:44) in a personal best to round out the scoring for Team USA. Several Mexican walkers finished in the top ten, but teams had to designate five scorers for the Pan Am Cup. Only two of their designated scorers made to the finish line, leaving them one short of the required number for the team championship.

American Rod Craig was well out of contention in 16th, yet still a fan favorite. He urged the crowd to pump up the volume by waving his arms every time he went by the grandstand. The fans responded with a roar.

Mexico has perhaps the greatest racewalk fans in the world. Thousands of enthusiastic spectators lined the streets for both days of the Semana Internacional, including the Corona and Powerade Girls, the former of which performed dances on a stage. A band provided music entertainment and the race was held on a main street next to large shopping mall called the Plaza Rio.

The US won Pan Am Cup women's 20 km in 1998 and the men's 20 km 10 years earlier, but had never won the 50 km. The 20 km Pan Am Cup races will be held next weekend in Chula Vista, CA.

50km Men: 9 March 2003
1. Jesús A. García (ESP) 3:46:46.
2. Craid Barret (NZL) 3:51:15.
3. Germán Sánchez (MEX) 4:04:11.
4. Dunn Philip (USA) 4:15:01.
5. Miguel Solís (MEX) 4:18:02.
6. Juan Toscano (MEX) 4:18:52.
7. Saúl Méndez (MEX) 4:19:12.
8. Cristian Bascuñan  (CHI) 4:19:27
9. Rogelio Sánchez (MEX) 4:26:09
10. Felipe Nava  (MEX) 4:29:58 
Other US
14. Theron Kissinger 4:58:10
15. Bill Vayo 5:16:44
16. Rod Craig 5:18:33
      Curt Clausen DNF
      John Souchek DQ
     


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