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This is how fast race walkers go in the Olympics

In race walking, participants must keep one foot on the ground at all times. But they can really move.

TOKYO, Japan — Do a quick Google search for "weird Olympic sports," and you'll see more than a few mentions of race walking. 

Participants must walk as quickly as they can while following strict technique rules that include keeping one foot on the ground at all times.

It has its roots as a high-society pastime in the Victorian era, according to the International Olympic Committee. It came to the United States in the late 19th century. At that time, bets were placed on which participants would drop out first. They would walk nearly 1,000 km in six days, the IOC says.

The sport was formalized in England and made its Olympic debut in 1904.

RELATED: Why is race walking an Olympic sport?

According to race rules, participants have to always have one foot in visible contact with the ground. Their front knee also has to be straight as they pass over it. 

Judges watch the race and show walkers paddles with symbols on them to indicate if they are breaking either of those rules. 

Watch: Race walking penalties take center stage

So how fast are the race walkers able to get moving?

In the women's 20 km race at the Tokyo Olympics, Italy’s Antonella Palmisano won the Olympic gold with a time of 1:29.12. That means she was doing a 7-minute, 11-second mile. 

The men's gold medal-winning time was 1:21:05, or a pace of a 6-minute, 31-second mile.

As someone who can't even run a mile that quickly, this writer is honestly shocked and very impressed. 

RELATED: American Molly Seidel wins Olympic bronze in her third marathon ever


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