Roubaix 28 hours is the premiere race of the race walking season. As many walkers discover, it is a prety hard race. Most races are either 24 hours or 100 miles; add an extra 4 hours or even 8 hours for faster walkers - then it is crunch time.
2014 saw a change in the race organisation. This year the 28 hour race broke a 60 year old tradition and started at 1100 (instead of 1300). Following on from last year, the race start was staged in the Grand Place - in front of the magnificant Hotel de Ville, and after a 15km loop around Roubaix the course settled in a 3031m loop in the beautiful Parc Barbieux.
In terms of race favourites, Dmytryi Ossipov (RUS) was it for the men's race. Ossipov has dominated Roubaix 28H since winning in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 amd 2013. He may have slowed over the last few hours, but he never lost his style! A well deserved win.
For the ladies race - well what a turn up for the books! For those who follow the 24 hour races in France (and the Paris-Colmar), Irina Poutintseva has ruled the roost for many years, closely followed by fellow Russian, Olga Borisova. However, 2014 saw a change! Maggy Labylle (Guadaloupe) has come of age. Maggy raced steadily and magnificantly and with hardly a change of pace to a victory of 205.189k. A pleasure to watch.
Hats off to Centurions Suzanne Beardsmore and Richard McChesney for staying the course. Both had overcome issues: Suzanne recovering from a recent operation and Richard, new to race walking, had just qualified as a Centurion at Southend only a few weeks before. Nevertheless, they both faced the challenge and came up trumps and showed great strength (and humour) when the going was tough.
28 hour results
24 hour relay
Three teams took part: Lightning Ladies - Kathy Crilley, Cath Duhig, Chris Flint(!); The Thunderbolts - Liz Blakie, Sue Rey, Serena Queeney; Les 3 Amigos - Dave Evans, Pat Evans, Bill Kingston
The relay may seem an easy option. It isn't! It is all abeit competing 20 (and more) 3000 metre races over a 24 hour period with only 40-45 minutes rest between each "race". Overall we each walked around 38-40 miles - which is why you may think it is easy. If you are an endurance/long distance ie "slow" walker - then racing 3000 metres is jolly hard work!
Whilst legend Klapa and team mates were not competing, the relay teams were still up against "unknown" competition. And boy was it ever competitive! We gave our all in the last couple of laps defending our position.
A nice touch to the relay was the Mayor's team. The Mayor of Roubaix and his team, along with his support crew, valiantly walked for 24 hours. So, OK, it wasn't main stream race walking, but it showed a commitment on behalf of the town (and it's Mayor) to support the race and I beleive the gesture was much appreciated by all competitors and the organisation. Boris Johnson - eat your heart out!