Havard Haukenes took the honours at the first of this year’s two European Athletics Race Walking Permit meetings when he strode to victory in the 50km race walk in a personal best of 3:42:50 at the Dudinská Päťdesiatka event on Saturday.
The Norwegian, fourth at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, regained the title he won in the Slovak spa town two years ago and took 50 seconds off his previous best that was set on that occasion with a hugely impressive performance over the second half of the race.
Finland’s Veli-Matti Partanen and Ecuador’s Andres Chocho went through 10km together in 45:22, holding a two-second lead over a four-man group of Haukenes, Finland’s Aleksi Ojala, German’s Karl Junghannss and Hungary’s Mate Helebrandt.
Partanen then almost immediately edged ahead and had a lead that varied at each split on the one kilometre circuit between three and nine seconds, passing 20km in 1:29:50, eight seconds ahead of Haukenes and Ojala and 46 seconds ahead of the pair of Junghannss and Helebrandt.
The Finn’s lead stretched to 12 seconds over his nearest rivals by 22km but in the 24th kilometre Haukenes started to close down Partanen and he took the lead just before the halfway point as 25km was passed in 1:52:05.
However, Haukenes couldn’t shake off Partanen and went through 30km passed in 2:14:17 and the latter only 10 seconds in arrears.
Chocho, who had surged strongly from 28km after drifting a long way off the lead, briefly overtook Haukenes before 35km before dropping out shortly afterwards, which left the Norwegian in the lead as he had been for most of the second half of the race and this time he was never headed.
With Partanen starting to tire and steadily falling back, Haukenes went through 40km in 2:58:17 – His 10km between 30km and 40km taking just 44:00 for his fastest 10km split of the race – to lead his nearest rival by 1:27.
Haukenes then just kept his eyes on the road ahead and finished off with a 10km split of 44:33 to seal victory and crossing the line with Partanen still having almost a kilometre to walk before the latter crossed the line to finish second in 3:46:54, the runner up for the second consecutive year.
— Matej Toth (@TothMatej) March 23, 2019
Poland’s Rafal Augustyn, the winner in Dudince in 2014 and 2016, finished third on this occasion in 3:47:04 but had the compensation of not only making the podium yet again but taking his national title.
Slovak 50km record holder Maria Czakova defended her Dudince title when she won in 4:16:33, just over two minutes outside the national record of 4:14:25 she set on the same course 12 months ago.
However, there was a national record for Croatia’s Ivana Renic who clocked 4:20:17 in second place.
Brazil’s South American 20km record holder Erica de Sena went into the lead early in the race and passed 10km in 50:17 with a group of four, including Czakova, 27 seconds behind.
However, de Sena seemingly started to unravel in the 14th kilometre with Czakova and fellow Slovak walker Monika Hornakova getting up alongside her.
De Sena, after apparently struggling for several kilometres, then got her second wind at 16 kilometres and forged ahead again, passing 20km in 1:41:20, 14 seconds ahead of Czakova with Hrnakova going through that checkpoint in third place before almost immediately dropping out.
However, Czakova reeled in de Sena over the next kilometre and the Brazilian herself dropped out after another two kilometres, leaving the local star alone in the lead with more than three minutes advantage over Renic at 23km.
After that Czakova was never troubled, passing 30km in 2:32:14, 4:38 ahead of the Croatian.
Her lead had stretched to over five minutes at 40km with Czakova going through in 3:23:08 and Renic second in 3:28:11.
Over the final 10km the result was a forgone conclusion although Renic kept her poise, and even closed the gap slightly, to improve her own national record and personal best by more than 15 minutes after finishing 12th in Berlin last summer in 4:35:39.
Colombia’s Sandra Galvis won the women’s 20km race in 1:30:33 with Lithuania’s 2017 Dudince champion Zivile Vaiciukeviciute, who was fifth over this distance in Berlin, the first European home in third place in 1:33:54.
However, there was a Lithuanian win in the men’s 20km with Artur Mastianica setting a personal best of 1:26:07 for victory.
Full results for all races are available here.