Guernsey Race Walking : Sarnia Walking Club


Racewalking in Guernsey is organised by the Sarnia Walking Club who are affiliated to the Race Walking Association, England Athletics, South of England Athletics Association, Hampshire Athletic Association and Guernsey Commonwealth Games Association and therefore  promote events as “races” rather than “rambling”.

But whatever your “speed” or age it is catered for you in Guernsey. The basic rules are simple. “Walk don’t run!”

Events over the year are over relatively short distances of between one mile and seven miles. Venues used are on the road at La Garenne, Les Amarreurs over a 1500 metres circuit, at Quayside on North Side, in the park at Delancey on the cycle path or at the Footes Lane athletics track. The occasional walk is also held along the coastal roads between Pleinmont and St Sampsons.

Ideal for newcomers to walking are the “Bob Wright Handicap Walks Series” where walkers are set off according to ability with the faster walkers trying to catch the first walkers off. The handicappers job is to try and get everyone across the finish line at the same time! This series takes place between September and March. Other walks during the rest of the year are for the “Heritage” sponsored Club Championship with team events and handicapped walks filling in throughout the year.

During the year the club promote a “one hour walk” which caters for all abilities and speeds. Simply walk as far as possible on the track in the allotted time, with your effort measured at the finish of the hour.

The pre Christmas time trial up the Val des Terres is one of the traditional events, the shortest walk but not the easiest! The longest event on the calender is the Church to Church walk over 19.4 miles. It has been held since 1936 and now attracts competitors from the UK. Walkers have 5 hours to complete the walk which over the years has proved to be sufficent. More information on this walk can be found at

The basics of the sport are easy to grasp after a few races and the rules below are the standard rules for Guernsey and the UK.  They are not as daunting as they may read!

Questions raised recently on Isle of Man re explanation of rules. Judge Steve Taylor set out the following, reproduced here, removing IOM references and updated.

There is only one definition of race walking as set out in IAAF rule 230.


Definition of Race Walking

Race Walking is a progression of steps so taken that the walker makes contact with the ground, so that no visible (to the human eye) loss of contact occurs. The advancing leg shall be straightened (i.e. not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact with the ground until the vertical upright position.

In Great Britain under the administration of the Race Walking Association (RWA) an introductory type of race walking has been designed to help beginners. Rule 230 is still enforced but the “straightening” part of the rule is not applied; only continuous contact is required. This is known as a “Category B” race, this in turn has lead to references of the B rule in race walking. Race walking events held strictly according to the I.A.A.F. Rule are called “Category A” events. Furthermore events over 50km in distance are held under the category B banner. The category that any race in held under is down to the organisers who apply to the RWA for a permit.

The RWA has its own rules for competition that should be borne in mind when the judging of races is under discussion, particularly 4b set out below.

This R.W.A. Rule for Competition 4(b):
The administration of the judging process shall be as set out in I.A.A.F. Rules 230.1, 230.2, 230.3, 230.4, except in the case of races in the following categories, where appropriate provisions may be made by the promoters:
(i)     races where there are fewer than 3 judges in attendance
(ii)    races for walkers under 11 years of age (see Rules for Competition 15)
(iii)   relay races
(iv)   point to point races.

 Mention has been made recently regarding the wearing of leggings and I would bring to your attention IAAF rule 143.1 “Athletes must not wear clothing which could impede the view of the Judges” and also UK Athletics rule 305 that is specific to race walking that states that competitors knees should be bare and that if garments are to be worn that cover the knee then the Referees permission should be obtained before the start of the race.

 Race walking judges are currently being reminded of their duties in this regard. Just as the football referee should book or send off a player for an infringements of the rules of football the race walking judge should caution or disqualify any athlete who by their mode of progression fails to comply with rule 230. That is to say that in a category A event the straight leg rule must be enforced. Judges do not have the discretion to ignore a “bent knee” and a red card must be issued against the athlete in question and disqualified if appropriate. This is something that the organisers of race walking events must be aware of going in to 2012 if they are applying for a category A race permit. Currently the majority of events on the Island (Guernsey) are held under  category B .

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