Double world champion Kimberly Garcia got her 2023 campaign off to a superb start on Saturday (25), breaking the 35km race walk world record with 2:37:44* at the Dudinska 50, the first World Athletics Race Walking Tour Gold meeting of the year.
The Peruvian race walker produced a solo effort from the early stages, passing through the first kilometre as part of a small lead group and then breaking away just a couple of minutes later. By the time she reached 5km in 22:41, she had a 16-second lead over Chinese duo Liu Hong and Ma Li.
Garcia’s lead grew to more than a minute by 15km, which she passed in 1:07:29 with four-time world champion Liu still level with compatriot Ma. World silver medallist Katarzyna Zdzieblo was a further minute behind in fourth.
Ma started to lose contact with Liu at about 18km, but Garcia continued churning out her metronomic splits, reaching 20km in 1:29:58. With 10km to go, Garcia’s lead over Liu had grown to 84 seconds. Wu Quanming, meanwhile, was starting to close on Chinese teammate Ma.
Garcia reached 30km in 2:15:10, almost two minutes clear of Liu, who was safe in second place. Wu had moved into third by this stage, but Ecuador’s Magaly Bonilla was closing fast.
There was no catching Garcia, though, who maintained her relentless pace to charge through the finish line in 2:37:44, taking two seconds off the previous fastest mark for the distance.
Liu, who was making her debut at the distance, followed more than two minutes later in 2:40:06 but was rewarded with an Asian record. Bonilla was third in an Ecuadorian record of 2:46:32 and a fading Wu held on for fourth (2:47:34).
In other races, Mexico’s Jose Doctor won the men’s 35km in a national record of 2:26:37 with Brazil’s Caio Bonfim in second (2:27:30). In the closest finish of the day, 2017 world champion Eider Arevalo of Colombia won the men’s 20km in 1:19:23 with double world bronze medallist Perseus Karlstrom finishing 21 seconds behind. Mexico’s Alegna Gonzalez won the women’s 20km race in 1:28:09, winning by more than two minutes from Puerto Rico’s Rachelle de Orbeta.
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure