After Opening Legacy Park Trail, Local Racewalker Hits the Bigtime

Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

 

Rob Robertson walks 100 miles in 24 hours.

Rob Robertson displays the Jack Webber Cup for
outstanding race performance as the top male and
overall first place finisher in the 2016 Australian
Centurion Walk.

 

Editor's Note: Rob Robertson participated in the honorary first lap to open the hospital's Legacy Park Recreational Trail in March 2016. The ultra-distance racewalker has made international news since then.

 

By Barbara W. Sessions

Ever wondered how to walk 100 miles in 24 hours? Ask Love County's Rob Robertson.

The Burneyville resident has established a worldwide reputation as a "Centurion" race specialist.

On four different continents since 2015, Robertson has successfully finished a 100-mile race within the 24 hour time limit.

That makes four Centurion badges won out of six World Centurion Clubs. "I only have two Centurion races left, in The Netherlands and in New Zealand. I plan to compete in those races in 2017. Neither club has ever had an American member," Robertson said.

Until the 53-year-old Oklahoman accomplished the feat in 2016, no walker had ever completed three 100-mile races in a calendar year.

In October, Robertson came in 11th of 19 finishers in the inaugural African Centurion Walk in Cape Town, South Africa, becoming African Centurion C11. He was the only American in the race.

Robertson recorded a personal best time of 22:19:00 in the 105th annual British Centurion, in Redcar, England in August. At the conclusion of the world's oldest 100-mile, 24-hour walking competition, he was awarded British Centurion C1169. He was the first American since 1965 to finish the race.

Robertson won top male and first place overall in the Australian Centurion Walk in April, with a time of 23:13:53. He received Australian Centurion Badge C68 and the Jack Webber Cup, which is voted by Australia's 67 other Centurions present to recognize best race performance.

In America, Robertson finished his first ever attempt at a 100-mile walk in the FANS 24 Hour Race in Minneapolis in June 2015, becoming only the 78th United States Centurion.

The 100-mile walk is the unexpected outgrowth of a health improvement plan Robertson launched the year he turned 50. "On January 1, 2013, I started walking for exercise and changed my diet to improve my health. Never in my life have I felt this good or been this fit. I had no idea that simple change would transform my life. I am literally walking the dream, walking side by side with the world's best long-distance racewalkers."

At work, Robertson is the third generation of his family involved in Robertson's Hams in Marietta.

At home at Falconhead Resort, 12 miles west of Marietta, Robertson walks six days a week on his street, a hilly .8 mile loop called Turner Circle. Neighborhood children run to keep up. He trains to maintain a steady 13-minute mile pace in competition.

"I just look out the window to know where he is," said his wife, Brenda Hallum Robertson. "One thing about Rob's hobby is that he is very considerate of our family. He does his weekend walks early in the morning. During the week, if we have our grandchildren here after school, he waits until they are gone before working out. He trains consistently and hard and recovers well. I am extremely proud of him."

Centurion races are generally competed on short tracks of one mile or less so judges can observe the field. Racers are required to practice a heel and toe walking technique with one foot in contact with the ground at all times.

With Brenda's trackside assistance at the 24-hour events, Robertson eats on the move. "I like to drink a cup of water at the top and bottom of each hour. I eat a handful of food at the quarter and three quarter marks. I like to start out eating a handful of candy or cookies each time. Every six hours I want some real food, like a sandwich, pizza, or burger. A soda later in the race can help get me to the finish."

Other ideas for training and competing Robertson includes in his blog, http://www.walk100miles24hours.com/, "The Quest to Walk 100 Miles in 24 Hours: My Journey To Join Every World Centurion Club."

The blog has 200 worldwide followers. In the "Tips" section, Robertson addresses his weekly walking schedule, strength training, diet, shoes, and blister prevention, as well as mind-building topics such as, "Never skip or cut a workout short," and "Never quit."

He wrote about the Centurion's heart: "During a 100 mile race there will be times you will not feel the love. We still train when it is not fun. We get through it. We gut it out. We finish. You will need that kind of mental training if you want to become a Centurion."