Being a competitive runner for many years and having converted to walking in 2003, I experienced a thoughtful moment one morning during my workout. I realized there are many more of us who walk than run but to my knowledge, there had never been a venue for walkers similar to that held for runners. Specically, why not provide a race for walkers that is conducted on the same scale as has been for runners? Why not have an event in which participants can walk for competition and/or health? Provide walkers with everything a runner would receive in a running event - age group awards, a certied course on which to walk with timed and posted results, meaningful event merchandise, and most importantly, a venue in which walkers would be recognized as the athletes they are, without having to share the road with runners. Welcome to the Fourth Annual New Albany Walking Classic!

We're #1...
After only three years, the New Albany Walking Classic has been recognized as America's Best Event for Walkers by WALK! Magazine. Based on my experience as a participant in a plethora of major races, such as the Boston and New York City marathons, and as a race director of many running events, the New Albany Walking Classic has achieved a level of quality that, in my opinion, is unsurpassed by any running or walking event.

Why do I feel that the Classic has earned this distinction?
First, it is the value and commitment provided to its participants. Each year, every entrant receives merchandise unparalleled by any similar event. In this year's Classic, every participant will receive a three-season event jacket valued at multiple times the registration entry fee. And the entry fee for the Classic is as little as one-third the entry fee of most major races. Further, numerous age-group awards allow for a large number of entrants to earn recognition. The commitment of our organizing committee, our 500 volunteers, the Village of New Albany and our sponsors is remarkable.
Second, the Classic is a walker-only event. I have heard numerous issues raised by walkers about their lack of satisfaction with a number of the "walker-friendly" events in which they participate. By "walker-friendly," I mean a running event that has a walking division. All too often, walkers in these events complain about the course being closed while they are still competing, not receiving awards, not having a separate listing of walkers in the race results and experiencing unwelcome comments from runners who feel the walkers are clogging up "their space." Of course, walkers pay the same entry fee as runners do and, in many cases, walk faster than runners run. Having a walker-only event helps address these issues.

... and getting better
"So, Phil, what are you going to do to make this year's Walking Classic even better than last year's?" This question has been posed to me on numerous occasions and it certainly motivates my thinking engine to power into high gear. I am not impressed with attracting large numbers of participants in an event but rather, it's the quality of the event that is most signicant. We are increasing our entry limit by only 500 so that no more than 3,500 registrants will be accepted in this year's Classic. We have added a half marathon distance (13.1 miles) to our popular 10K distance (6.2 miles). Every walker will receive a beautiful half marathon or 10K nisher's medal when crossing the nish line as a lifetime reminder of a proud accomplishment. Thanks to the generosity of Mount Carmel, we have added a two-day Health & Fitness Expo prior to the Classic.
So, get ready to walk for health and/or competition. Join thousands of other walkers in the best event for walkers in the country. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you on race weekend and, by all means, stop by to chat with me.

Healthfully,
Phil Heit,
Race Director

Dr. Phil Heit is Professor Emeritus of Physical Activity and Educational Services at The Ohio State University. He is the founder of the New Albany Walking Club in New Albany, and founder and race director of the New Albany Walking Classic. Comments and questions can be sent to phil@newalbanywalkingclub.com or you can visit the race website at www.newalbanywalkingclassic.com.

First seen in Walk Magazine. Visit Walk-Magazine.com