John Nunn won the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Men’s 50 km Race Walk in 4:04:38 to lead a fast race that saw course records set Sunday (23) in Santee, Calif.
Olympians at the 20 km distance, Nunn and Tim Seaman, both of San Diego, pushed each other throughout the race with several changes of the lead as both walked well under the Olympic “B” standard of 4:09. Seaman finished second in 4:05:50. The duo led the way for the top five men to better the previous course record of 4:28:53 set in 2009 by current race director Philip Dunn.
“You know it has been a long road to get back," Nunn said. "I didn’t make the team in ‘08 and it was a hard push. My daughter was 6-months-old when I went in ’04, and I really wanted to give her a chance to come and see it again. It is a dream come true to make it again, and to know she can experience that and have it in her mind for the rest of her life to go and see me compete in the Olympics."
The athletes were greeted to near perfect conditions - 6-12 C. - as they covered the 1.25 km loop on the streets of Santee. The 50 kilometre distance required the athletes to complete 40 laps on the course. This 31 mile distance is the longest track and field event offered in the Olympics.
From the early stages of the race a pack of five men emerged as the lead pack including Nunn, Seamain, Ben Shorey, Patrick Stroupe and Erich Cordero (Pompano Beach, Fla.). The men remained within feet of each other with no one separating from the others. The group pushed the pace to come through the half-way point well under the Olympic “B” standard pace of 4:09. At 25 km, the top four men split 1:38:50, with Cordero falling back slightly to 1:39:23.
At 35 km, the race began in earnest as Nunn surged ahead of his competitors to quickly build a 20-30 metre lead over Seaman. Nunn held his lead for nearly 10 km before Seaman was able to reel him back in to take the lead at the 45 km mark. From there it was a two man race as the two walked shoulder-to-shoulder for the next two laps of the course. The two veterans pushed one another and extended their lead as the pulled out of sight of Shorey and Stroupe.
Going into the bell lap, Nunn pulled away by nearly 50 metres over Seaman and never looked back as he extended his lead by one minute and twelve seconds to win the Olympic Trials and set the course record of 4:04:38. Nunn’s time improves his personal best by nearly ten minutes.
Seaman finished as the runner-up in 4:05:50, while Shorey rounded out the podium taking third in 4:17:40. Stroupe set a PB by more than seven minutes to finish fourth in 4:19:43, and Cordero finished fifth in 4:28:04.
“Very few people believed in me, the boys from Cuyamaca were out here today and they really, really motivated me and I couldn’t have done it without them," said Seaman. "I’m 39 years old, I almost got my PR. I did the best I could, and I couldn’t have done better.”
USATF for the IAAF