Dear Racewalking: Sam Allen of Kingsway HS

Sam Allen on his way to win 2019 NBNO 3K racewalk championship. 

One of the brightest young stars in racewalking, Sam Allen has written a letter to the sport as his Salute to Seniors submission. An All-American and outdoor national champ on the track, Allen graduated valedictorian of the Kingsway HS class of 2020 and will be attending Cornell University to study environmental engineering. He will continue competing in the racewalk and and has a bright future ahead in the event.

Samuel Allen

Kingsway HS

Dear Racewalking,

Racewalking, you are like the weird uncle in the athletics family. Neglected, underestimated, and misunderstood. But, when somebody gets to know you, they discover how challenging and fun the sport can be!

You have taught me the importance of patience. Racewalking form is not easy to master; it comes with practice and time. It takes years to master, and anyone just starting out will not have legal form. I should know. When I started out, I could not walk legally. Like so many other beginners, I could not keep my knees straight, but I took every opportunity that I could to improve my form including walking from class to class with locked knees. Eventually, after numerous disqualifications and weird looks in the hallways, I could walk legally. To be a good racewalker requires an enormous amount of training hours and effort. Just like a marathoner, racewalkers take many years to develop and perform at their best. Since I have only been walking for two and a half years, I still have a long time and a lot of miles to walk, but I am looking forward to what is to come.

Sam Allen and Jordan Crawford after 2019 U20 Pan Am 10km

You have also taught me the important of passion. To be a great racewalker, one must be dedicated to the sport every moment of everyday. All the little details, your diet, sleep patterns, stretching, matter and cannot be overlooked because when they are neglected, injuries and poor performances occur. Racewalkers must also enjoy and be proud of their sport. It takes a lot of bravery or rather not caring about other people's opinions to walk in front of others. It may sound silly, but most beginners are too embarrassed to walk in public out of fear of being ridiculed or laughed at, and that it is what prevents most people from trying the sport. It took me months to walk in public. I even know one racewalker who walked at night, so no one saw him.

You have given me so many great memories and opportunities. Some of my greatest memories have come from racewalking. I can remember winning my first national championship or competing in Costa Rica or passing a former World Champion medalist on the last lap like they were yesterday. I have been able to travel to places I would not have gone to before for national and international competitions and to meet so many people. Racewalking also has a great community. The racewalking community in the United States is very small, so most people know each other, and most racewalkers are very helpful, positive, and encouraging. No one is out to get each other, and we just want to see someone succeed in the sport.

Although my time racewalking in high school has come to a close, I will continue to racewalk for as long as I can. I hope to meet more people and to make more memories in the sport. Hopefully, in the near future, I will be good enough to compete against the best in the world and contend for a championship. I only wish more people would put aside their misconceptions and give racewalking a try. Thank you racewalking for all that you have given me.

Thank you,

Sam Allen

Photo from the 2020 Millrose Games