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Saturday, May 27, 2000 -- Wheeling, WV
Big Boy Classic 20K Walk
Story and photos by Julie Bertsch

[Big Boy 20K Run] [Big Boy Mile] [Big Boy 20K Walk]
Past Coverage: [1999 20K] [1999 Mile] [1998 20K] [1998 Mile]

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2]

Big Boy 20K Walk
Starting the Big Boy 20K walk in some very damp conditions
There's always a lot of talk about the Big Boy 20K Run bringing elite runners from all over the world to Wheeling, WV, but the Big Boy 20K Walk is certainly a main attraction as well. Speed walkers from all over the state, and surrounding areas train hard for the brutal Big Boy, which is 12 miles of testing terrain.

The rainy weather was a nice change for for one reason, cooler temperatures, but as many walkers approached the 7th mile just before Wheeling Park, the drizzle took a turn for the worse. It was a torrential downpour in a heartbeat.

Big Boy 20K Walk
George Macek & Rollie Woods stick to the pace early
Unlike running where downhills will speed up a person's time, downhills for speed walkers are very tough. Different muscles are used in race walking than running, and those Wheeling hills can pose quite a threat to a person's hamstrings.

As over 80 walkers took off at the start on 14th street, folks began to look for a leader as they continued the loop back past the starting line. Battling early on was Ken James & Steve Bence, who battled for the top spot just over a week ago in Connellsville, PA at the Anchor Glass/Rolling Rock 5K.

Big Boy 20K Walk
Bobbi Jo Chapman sets the race walking standard in Wheeling
Still, it was the returning Big Boy 20K Walk champion Bobbi Jo Chapman who set the overall pace. Chapman took the lead and held onto it tight as she finished 1st overall with a time of 1:54.16, beating her top time last year by 3 minutes. Chapman is heading to the Olympics this year, so keep an eye out for her.

Eight seconds behind Chapman was Steve Bence(1:58:30), who was kicking it hard through the rain even though he's had an injured hamstring for weeks. With bandages dangling in the wind, Bence finished 2nd just ahead of Don Slusser. Slusser was turning on the speed at the top of Wheeling Hill and turning some runner's heads too! He rounded out the top spots at 3rd with a time of 1:58:48.

Big Boy 20K Walk
William Cunningham being the Big Boy court jester
The women's race for 2nd overall was pretty close. Katherine Campbell and Samantha McGee set the pace early on for the women, but Campell(2:18.23), kept it up to the finish line and claimed 2nd overall. Deanna Robinson(2:18.02), took home the 3rd place prize, but Samantha McGee gave her a run for the money for a while. Mcgee fell behind Robinson by 21 seconds or so to the line.

This year's 20K walk saw the return of many competitive walkers from 99'. It is a growing sport, and a very exciting one at that. Look for even more racers in the 20K Big Boy Walk for 2001.

Check out the 20K Walk Results from 1999, and compare times.