Eider Arevalo wins the 20km at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge meeting in Rio Maior (© Organisers)
Colombia’s Eider Arevalo regained his title at the Race Walking Grand Prix in Rio Maior, while Peru’s Kimberly Garcia dashed hopes of a Portuguese win in the women’s race at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge meeting on Saturday (1).
Led by British record-holder Tom Bosworth, a large group passed through the first five kilometres of the men’s race in 20:50. Ten men were still in contention at the half-way mark, which was reached in 41:15.
Ireland’s Alex Wright, the recent winner in Lugano, led the pack at 15km. Having covered the previous five-kilometre segment in 20:03, just five other men – including Arevalo and Bosworth – were left at the front. Arevalo then upped the pace in the closing stages and, after covering the final five kilometres in 19:21, went on to cross the finish line in 1:20:40.
His time was the second-fastest performance of his career, 55 seconds shy of the PB he set in Podebrady in 2013. It was also one second faster than his winning time in Rio Maior in 2015.
“I was looking for a good result here,” said Arevalo, who won at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge meeting in Ciudad Juarez three weeks ago. “I think this is the result of the work we have been doing until now. I didn’t have a specific time in mind; I simply tried go faster than my winning time in Juarez.”
Following his win in Rio Maior two years ago, Arevalo went on to finish seventh at that year’s IAAF World Championships. After a similarly strong start to his 2017 season, the 24-year-old now hopes to perform even better at the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Bosworth finished second in a season’s best of 1:20:58 while Tunisia’s Hassanine Sebei placed third in 1:21:12, his highest finish from his six appearances in Rio Maior.
Local supporters had hoped that this would be the year when one of Portugal’s leading race walkers would win the women’s race, but Peru’s Kimberly Garcia pulled off a surprise victory.
In a bid to shelter from the strong winds in Rio Maior, all of the pre-race favourites bunched together during the opening kilometres, passing 5km in 23:41 and 10km in 46:24.
With the men’s and women’s races taking place at the same time, Colombia’s Sandra Arenas was passed by compatriot Jorge Ruiz, competing in the men’s race, at about 11km and she tried to go with him, a move which broke up the lead pack in the women’s race.
Arenas had a five-second lead over Garcia at 15km, reached in 1:08:36, but the Peruvian gradually closed in on Arenas and eventually passed her before going on to win in a season’s best of 1:31:00.
“I’m very happy with this victory,” said Garcia, who finished 14th at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. “It shows the work I’ve made until now. I came here with a season’s best of 1:35 and I’ve improved to 1:31.”
Arenas finished 13 seconds in arrears to take the runner-up spot. After finishing third at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge meetings in Ciudad Juarez and Monterrey, Portugal’s Ana Cabecinha once again finished third, this time clocking 1:31:54.
Ines Henriques, who was contesting her 100th 20km race, was fourth in 1:32:15.
“I’m very happy with this year’s performances,” said the 36-year-old, who earlier this year set a world record (pending ratification) of 4:08:26 over 50km. “After 18 years in this sport, it is really good to see the support from people. I feel really tired because in the past month-and-a-half I have covered 130 kilometres in competition!”
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF
1 Eider Arevalo (COL) 1:20:40
2 Tom Bosworth (GBR) 1:20:58
3 Hassanine Sbei (TUN) 1:21:12
4 Esteban Soto (COL) 1:21:13
5 Alex Wright (IRL) 1:21:17
6 Perseus Karlstrom (SWE) 1:21:55
7 Caio Bonfim (BRA) 1:22:13
8 Alexandr Papamichail (GRE) 1:22:46
1 Kimberly Garcia (PER) 1:31:00
2 Sandra Arenas (COL) 1:31:13
3 Ana Cabecinha (POR) 1:31:54
4 Inês Henriques (POR) 1:32:15
5 Antigoni Drispoti (GRE) 1:32:47
6 Mirna Ortiz (GUA) 1:33:13
7 Emilie Menuet (FRA) 1:33:31
8 Arabelly Orjuela (COL) 1:34:30