KINGSPORT — David Swarts, who left the course not even realizing he’d won, can thank his lucky stars that the competition became overly exuberant Saturday in the 20th annual USATF American Way Racewalk.
Swarts went back to his home in Jackson, Mich., with the men’s championship plaque in hand after the top three contenders were disqualified.
It took officials several minutes to sort out the final results, eliminating defending champion Dan Seranni, Jonathan Hallman and Michael Mannozzi from the field. It was ruled that all three had violated the lifting rule by accelerating into a running mode near the finish line.
Swarts covered the 5K course in 23 minutes, 16 seconds. He beat Omar Nash of Cincinnati to the tape by 15 seconds. Swarts was entered in the 45-49 age division, Nash in the 35-39.
Actually, the fastest walker on the track was Francisco Pantoja, a Mexican who failed to qualify under the USA Track & Field sanction because of a non-citizen clause. He lives in Denver but was unable to present citizenship papers.
Former Olympian Teresa Vaill of Gainesville, Fla., won the women’s championship in 23 minutes, 37 seconds — more than a minute ahead of Jamie Randall of Beaver Creek, Ohio.
For the complete story, pick up a copy of the Sept. 30 edition of the Times-News.