The 2016 Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic on June 17th at Swangard Stadium will celebrate the rebounding popularity of Pedestrianism, the 19th century form of competitive race walking. For several decades in the late 1800’s race walking rose in prominence to attract crowds of 10s of thousands spectators in Europe and North America.
The modern equivalent of race walking, now an Olympic event, features 20 and 50 km distances. Three British Columbian athletes will attempt at the Jerome Track Classic, to break the current Canadian best over 5000m of 18 minutes 45.64 seconds.
Benjamin Thorne of Kitamat, Inaki Gomez of Vancouver and Evan Dunfee of Richmond have committed to race walk on June 17th at 6pm. These athletes developed while students at the University of British Columbia under the coaching guidance of Gerry Dragomir. After various collegiate and national titles, all three have had great success on the international scene. Ben Thorne won the bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. Evan Dunfee won the gold medal while Inaki Gomez took the silver at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
This trio has accomplished what is rarely done in Canadian team events on the world scene. Last Saturday, in the shadow of the Coliseum in Rome at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships, Canada took the silver medal. Against 143 athletes from 21 nations, China was 1st with 16 points, Canada 2nd with 28 points and Ecuador 3rd with 41 points.
At the same World Championships in 2012 in Sarnask, Russia, the Canadian team was a distance 14th and in 2012 in Taicang, China our BC race walkers were 4th.
Now in 2016 this trio stood on the podium in Rome, the first time ever for Canada.
Ben, Inaki and Evan will join fellow UBC athlete, Liz Gleadle to the Jerome Classic, now in its’ 33rd year. Last Saturday, Liz won the javelin event in Kawasaki, Japan with 62.59m after taking the gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games.
The Jerome Classic will also feature Andre De Grasse of Markham, ON who may be on the threshold of an Olympic medal, which would follow in the footsteps BC sprinters, Percy Williams and Harry Jerome.
Tickets are $25 finish line, $10 general admission are available on line at www.harryjeorme.com. First event starts at 6pm with doors open at 5pm. Opening ceremonies will be at 7:30pm