In Race Walk events, an athlete must (to the human eye) be in contact with the ground at all times, unlike in running events, where both feet are momentarily off the ground. The leading leg must be straight from the moment it is first in contact with the ground, and the technique looks very different to ordinary walking. Athletes must be incredibly disciplined to fight the urge to break into a run for extra speed.
The Race Walk events start and finish at The Mall. Athletes race over a 2km loop, taking them up The Mall towards Buckingham Palace, around the Victoria Memorial and up Constitution Hill towards Hyde Park Corner before returning to complete the loop. The men's 50km walk, covering 25 loops, will take around 3.5 to 4 hours to complete.
The Race Walk events are all straight finals – the first athlete to cross the finish line is the winner.
Keys to success
Athletes need incredible amounts of stamina, endurance and mental strength. The pace is punishing and winning athletes must combine their speed and discipline right to the finish.
Breaking the rules
Judges are stationed at points along the course and will be looking closely at the athletes’ technique. If a judge is unhappy about any aspect, they will show a yellow paddle to the athlete as a warning. If an athlete is clearly not complying with the rules, the judge will show a red paddle. If an athlete is shown three red paddles by three different judges they are disqualified.