20-kilometer race walk kicks off U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials

Race Walker Erin Taylor-Talcott (Photo by USATF)

SALEM, Ore. – Similar to the men’s and women’s hammer throw being staged on the Nike campus in Beaverton four years ago, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field will expand its footprint this year.

Only this time, the destination is Salem.

The first event of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials will be contested in downtown Salem on June 30 with the combined men’s and women’s 20-kilometer race walk set to begin and end in front of the steps of the Oregon State Capitol on Court Street.

The race is free to the public. The rest of the U.S. Olympic Trials events will be held July 1-10 at Hayward Field in TrackTown USA.

“We’re always looking for innovative ways to expand our footprint,” said TrackTown USA President and Olympic Men’s Track and Field Head Coach Vin Lananna. “We’re confident the City of Salem will fully embrace and support the many talented athletes who will be pursuing their Olympic dreams in this fan-friendly event.”

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Race Walkers John Nunn and Nick Christie battle it out. (Photo by USATF)

The combined 20km race walk is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. for the men, with the women to follow about a minute later, so all of the athletes will be on the course at the same time.

Besides the start and finish in front of the steps to the State Capitol, the race walkers will complete 19 one-kilometer loops on Cottage Street. The anticipated field for the combined 20km race walk is 15 men and 15 women. They will be shooting for the Olympic qualifying standard of 1 hour, 24 minutes for the men, and 1 hour, 36 minutes for the women.

Race organizers promise a festive atmosphere for the 20km race walk with music and cheerleaders on the course. They anticipate a vocal crowd of local residents lining the course and cheering on the Olympic hopefuls as the City of Salem becomes one of the stops on the Road to Rio.

In continuing a TrackTown USA tradition of engaging youth, a youth race walk clinic and event will be held on Wednesday, June 29 at 10 a.m. in Wilson Park adjacent to the State Capitol.

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