A December Virtual Five Kilometres plus A Slice of Italian and French Walking History

Following the unfortunate cancellation of the Dick Maxwell trophy race on December 3rd, it has been agreed that we organise a December Virtual 5 kilometres in addition to that envisaged for January. Both will count in the overall Club Handicap competition. Your December clockings should be sent to me at tonymtaylor@gmail.com by January 2nd at the latest. Weather allowing, this gives members three weeks to fit in a 5 kilometres blast, which should stand us in good stead for the longer challenges ahead. I’ll submit these to Dave Evans for the handicap adjustments and put up the result post-haste. Accompanying photos will be gratefully received.

Given our club’s proud history in the longer distances, I thought you might enjoy this brief extract from one of Alain Moulinet’s two books on ‘Le Longue Marche’

The Missed Appointments of Two Athletics Giants at the Olympics

Donato PAVESI and Florimond CORNET

After the unchallenged domination of British pedestrians at the beginning of the 20th century, the Azzura team established its world supremacy in the discipline, thanks to the many popular events organised at that time. It is particularly one of them, that one hundred years ago, on November 19, 1922, between Brescia and Milan, the ‘campionissimo’ Donato PAVESI (first walker under 10 hours on November 6, 1914, in 9:59:48) smashed his own World Best Performance in the 100km walk, clocking 9:51:37. Donato PAVESI unquestionably became, at the start of the 1920s, the world No. 1 in all the great international classics, such as London-Brighton (85km) and Manchester to Blackpool (83km), which allowed athletic walking to compete with cycling. into the hearts of the public and draw huge crowds to the roadside.

Also excellent over short distances, Donato PAVESI was, unfortunately, the victim during his two participations in the Olympic Games of the still very uncertain judgment of this discipline. In 1920 in Antwerp, in the 3000m, while fighting for second place in the home stretch, he was disqualified. On the second walking event of these Games, the 10000m, he was destabilized and slowed down by the incessant remarks of the judges. Having managed despite everything to finish 6th, he learns, as soon as he crosses the finish line, his disqualification! At the 1924 Paris Games, this Olympic curse pursued him: he narrowly failed for the bronze medal by finishing 4th. However, he ended his brilliant sporting career on the Milan track with a World Record for the 20,000m walk in 1h37’42”.

As athletic and slender as Donato PAVESI, the prodigy of French walking in the 1930s, Florimond CORNET, in turn, pulverized the Best World Performance of the 100km in 9h41’57’’, on May 9, 1937, in Montargis. Two weeks later, on May 22 and 23, 1937 on the selective East circuit in Paris-Strasbourg, he appropriated two other World Best Performances over the 200km in 21h58 ‘and the 24h with 216km460 to his credit. The following year, on July 10, 1938, in a 170km event (!!!) around Lake Geneva, which he won, he improved his 100km record in 9h39’05”. Then again, the following year, on June 25, 1939, on the occasion of the Bol D’or de Paris organized at the Aubervilliers stadium, he confirmed these extraordinary road times by setting the first World Record for the 100,000m track in 9:41:39. That year, he achieved a unique feat in the annals of walking: being crowned French Champion of the 50km twice in the two competing federations of the time, the U.F.M. and the F.F.A.

Indeed, in view of the brilliant results of the walkers of the French Walking Union one year before the Olympic Games scheduled for Helsinki, the French Athletics Federation proposed a merger agreement and temporarily accepted the joint participation of the walkers of these two sports entities at their respective championships. So much so that Florimond CORNET easily won the UFM 50km championship on May 8, 1939, in Metz, in 4h28’46” (Best French Performance) then, on July 23, less than a month later after his 100,000m track exploit, he doubled the lead by outclassing the FFA 50km championship in Colombes, in 4h35’03”. Unfortunately, the noise of boots at the end of the summer of 1939, ruined the Olympic hopes of the prodigy. Florimond CORNET. He was only 28 years old, the golden age for a walker……….

Both books are available on AMAZON

LA TUMULTUEUSE HISTOIRE DE LA MARCHE AUX JEUX OLYMPIQUES Hardcover

LE CERCLE DES MARCHEURS DISPARUS Hardcover

Unfortunately, as best I can see. they are only available in French!!!

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