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.
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•Patience• Not in a top list of my strongest assets. But I’ve been working on it. Patience in training, trust in the process. It’s become a necessity after a couple years of Major Championship flops, chasing podiums and coming up woefully short. • This race was about conquering a distance that has, admittedly, kicked my ass the last few tries. I believed a top 8 was possible but I just wanted revenge on those pesky 50,000m. • So I did what I’ve been practicing. I was patient. I waited. Those in front began to falter and one by one I picked them off. Then at 45km I struck. I was in 4th, 2min from the athlete I’d eventually catch. I charged on, recording 5 of the 7 fastest 1km splits of anyone in the race. Just after 49km I moved into 3rd (this time staying on my feet) securing my first ever Worlds podium. So maybe this patience thing pays off. • I can’t thank the team around me enough. The progress we’ve made in the last year to get me healthy and fit couldn’t have happened without every single member being on the same page. Gerry, Devon, Marilou, Brent, Trent, Louise, Kirsten, the list goes on and on but each of you deserve your names on this medal! To everyone else who has supported me over the years, thank you so much! I can’t wait to celebrate this achievement with you. Finally, Nana, this one was for you! For 4 hours I imagined you yelling at your computer screen because they weren’t showing me and then losing your mind (well, what was left of it) when you saw me moving up close to the medal. You were with me every step of the way ❤️ ••• #Worldathleticschamps #doha2019 #athletics #olympics #canada #trackandfield #teamnb 📸 Andy Lyons/ IAAF
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.”
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4795km completed this year and they’ve all built to this moment. 50 more to go. Tomorrow night I line up beside the best 50km walkers in the world. Rankings mean nothing. Personal bests mean nothing. All that matters is who covers those 50,000 meters the quickest from the moment the gun goes off at 23:30 in Doha. • It’s going to be hot. With humidity it’ll feel over 40 degrees. It’s late. Racing at 11:30pm is foreign to all of us. It’s impossible to predict how the race will unfold and I’m excited to roll with the punches and see what my body allows me to do. I know I’m fit, but it means nothing if I don’t prove it! • Catch all the action on @cbc.sports online. My race kicks off at 1:30pm PST. • 📸 @morrisphoto/ COC #worldathleticschampionships #Athletics #doha2019 #teamcanada #teamnb #teamtap #nuunlife #racewalk
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.