Evan Dunfee claimed Canada’s second medal of the World Championships on Saturday evening, earning bronze in the 50K race walk. Dunfee and Team Canada learned lessons from the women’s marathon the day before (where nearly half of the field didn’t finish) and adjusted their race plan for the extreme Doha heat.
Dunfee said that the race was insane. At 32 degrees with 75 per cent humidity, it was hot. “We knew from the women’s marathon that slowing down the pace by about 10 per cent was a good place to be in. I kept that in the back of my mind, but primarily the plan was just to start out slow. I knew slowing by a couple of seconds early on could cost me minutes in the end and I didn’t want to have a repeat of London or Taicang (IAAF World Race Walk Team Championships) where I was there at 40K and then blew up. So I started conservatively and just built slowly through the race.”
The athlete also said that there were 74 drink stations on the course and he stopped at every single one, taking as much fluid as he could carry each time. “We knew it was going to be hot, so our entire race strategy was centred around cooling. I ice-bathed for 10 minutes before entering the call room and then wore a towel soaked in ice as I waited to start. During the race there were 74 opportunities to take water and personal drinks and I took as much as I could hold every time. The two water stations were about 700m and 1.3K into the loop and the personal drinks were like 1.9K in. At each water station I would try to take two bottles of water and one or two sponges. At each personal drinks table I would take my bottle, a hat that had been on ice, a neck sausage that was full of ice and a cold towel to also wrap around my neck. I just kept myself constantly wet. There were only one or two points in the race where I felt hot. I one-hundred per cent attribute my success to this strategy.”
Endurance runners can learn important lessons from Tessier and Dunfee when racing in the heat: start slowly and drink way more than you think you should.