A Geek's Guide to Race Walking

Short Form


"It's like the gods descending from Mt. Olympus!" Okay, so your reaction to seeing race walkers might not be as dramatic as Hal's on "Malcolm in the Middle." But from the unconventional gait to the plethora of statistics, there's plenty about this sport to delight geeks. In this session, we'll tell you all about it.


Race walking is a century-old sport that has two simple rules: keep one foot on the ground, and keep your front leg straight. It’s a great way to stay fit, with less impact on the joints than other sports. As with many endeavors, you can get started easily but build mastery as time and enjoyment allow. Oh, and did we mention statistics? Beyond the usual distance/time/pace triad, the possibilities for analysis and tracking are endless: stride length, strike angle, turnover, and more.

During this session, you’ll learn by doing. We’ll go over the trigonometry and basic technique in the comfort of the classroom, and then head outside for a short walk to put that knowledge into practice. We’ll finish off with where you can go from here: working out on your own, finding people to walk with, tracking your data, and so on.

Speaking experience

Carmen is a coach and regularly speaks to groups of people. Ian has spoken at Open Source Bridge (most recently here: http://opensourcebridge.org/sessions/841 ), as well as several other conferences.


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    Ian is a Portland-area software utility player who spends his (heh) “spare time” recklessly concocting music, teaching his rug rats how to bicycle, and composing lists in threes.

    He is also the author of Scripted GUI Testing With Ruby, and co-author of Using JRuby and Cucumber Recipes, published by the Pragmatic Programmers.


      • Title: How My Kids Are Learning to Program By Talking
      • Track: Culture
      • Room: B202/203
      • Time: 2:303:15pm
      • Excerpt:

        My children have patiently tolerated a number of teach-STEM-quick schemes their dad has brought home. They’ve taught robots to dance, created simple animations using Scratch, and, quite frankly, made a lot of poop jokes.

        What’s missing from these programming tools was storytelling. The ones we tried focused either on easy interactivity or expressive power. If only there were a way to combine the two… oh, wait, there was—46 years ago!

      • Speakers: Ian Dees
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    Coach Carmen has been racewalking competitively since 1986 and has coached other walkers for over 15 years. She is drawn to the technical aspects of the sport because it gives her something new to continually challenge her. As a result of her passion for walking, Coach Carmen received two US utility patents on a midsole designed to improve walking performance. She launched ReShod Walking Shoes in 2008. You can contact Coach Carmen at cj@reshod.com.