Guatemala’s Olympic silver medallist Erick Barrondo and Mexico’s Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez both rose to second place in the 2015 IAAF Race Walking Challenge after taking the 20km wins at the 17th Pan American Race Walking Cup in Arica, Chile, on Saturday and Sunday (9-10).
Barrondo held off a strong challenge from Brazil’s Caio Bonfim to beat him by one second, the Guatemalan crossing the line in 1:21:25 to achieve his first win of the season and in the challenge following his runner-up finish in the Mexican city of Chihuahua in March.
Third two years ago, the Brazilian improved to silver this time while Colombia’s 21-year-old Ivan Garrido produced the best performance of his life, slicing more than two minutes from his previous best to win the bronze medal in 1:21:39.
Garrido finished ahead of Canadian record-holder Evan Dunfee, fourth in 1:21:54, and Mexico’s 2009 world bronze medallist Eder Sanchez, who was fifth in 1:21:58.
In the women’s 20km on Saturday, Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez continued to show excellent form this season.
After winning in the second leg of the Race Walking Challenge on home soil in March, the Mexican dominated the race in Arica with 1:29:21, the second sub-1:30 performance of her career and close to two minutes faster than her closest rival, Peru’s defending champion Kimberly Garcia, who was second in 1:31:13.
Guatemala’s North, Central American and Caribbean record-holder and 2011 Pan American Games silver medallist Mirna Ortiz had to settle for bronze in 1:31:31, seven seconds ahead of Mexico’s 20-year-old Alejandra Ortega.
Ortega, the 2013 Pan American Cup junior 10km winner, race walked more than three minutes faster than two months ago at home in Chihuahua, when she made her debut over the distance.
Nava gets Cup record
Mexico’s Horacio Nava also showed impressive form in his first race of the season, winning the 50km on Sunday with a competition record of 3:45:41, the fourth-fastest time of his career. The 2007 champion also won the silver medal two years ago in Guatemala.
“I achieved my goal to qualify to the next major events," said Nava. "It is a busy year so my goal here was to finish with the best time possible. It is not my personal best, but it is more than enough to give me the Olympic qualification."
His countryman and 2000 world junior champion Cristian David Berdeja was with Nava in the lead until the last two 2km laps and finished second in a personal best of 3:50:19.
Colombian record-holder James Rendon averted a Mexican clean sweep of the podium as he clinched the bronze medal with a season’s best of 3:50:47.
Mexico’s defending champion Omar Zepeda was down in seventh this time with 3:58:44, but ahead of Colombia’s 2011 world 20km bronze medallist Luis Fernando Lopez, although the latter improved his 50km best by more than four minutes with 4:00:55.
For the first time in the history of the Pan American Race Walking Cup, two women contested the 50km.
USA’s Erin Taylor-Talcott completed the distance in 4:50:26, six minutes ahead of the other participant, her fellow US race walker Susan Randall, who clocked 4:56:42.
Bolivia’s Stefany Coronado took the top honours in the junior women’s 10km with a competition record of 47:05, ahead of Mexico’s Valeria Ortuno and Colombia’s Maria Montoya, who were second and third in 47:19 and 47:38 respectively.
In the junior men’s 10km, Colombia’s Brayan Fuentes won in 41:41 to upset Peru’s world junior bronze medallist Paolo Yurivilca, who was four seconds in arrears in 41:45. Another Colombian, Cesar Herrera, finished third in 42:36.
The event in Chile’s northernmost city had 159 athletes representing 16 countries.
The 11-leg IAAF Race Walking Challenge will now travel to Spain for the next two stops: the European Cup Race Walking next Sunday (17) in Murcia and the La Coruna Grand Prix on 6 June before it wraps up at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing this August.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF