REEDSPORT — Most days Stephanie Casey can be found walking around Reedsport.
But Casey is not out for a casual stroll. But rather, she is honing her race walking form and speed as she prepares for races around the globe.
In August she raced in Lima, Peru, at the Pan-Am Games and earlier this week traveled to Suzhou, China, to compete at an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) event.
“It’s always fun to go and represent USA and to race for my country,” said Casey in a phone interview from LAX, where she was preparing to board for her 13-hour flight to China.
At the August Pan-Am games, Casey was in a field of 10 women racing at the distance of 50 kilometers (31 miles). The course brought the walkers through a one-kilometer loop around the city that was repeated 50 times. For Casey, she sees the seemingly monotonous course as a positive.
“I actually enjoy the shorter courses. I did a 50K earlier this year on a track which is 125 laps around the track and I actually really liked that,” said Casey. “I think it keeps me more focused to keep me on a shorter course and the longer courses leave you more places for your mind to wander and get off track.”
The short course also allows her coaches and trainers to check in with her regularly throughout the race and offer any tips, encouragement or sustenance that she might need. Casey finished ninth in the field at the Pan-Am Games in a time of 4:50:31.
Upon returning home, Casey was due for a break in walking and pivoted to running.
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“It gives the race-walking muscles and the race-walking brain a bit of a break. It’s a lot more mentally taxing to race walk because there is so much technique that goes with, it whereas running there tends to be more relaxing, you can let your mind go,” she said.
While her sights were set for China, there were some bumps in the road throughout her training. While running in the 10-kilometer Prefontaine Memorial Run, she pulled a muscle. After working to heal the injury, she planned to race the full marathon at the Charleston Salmon Run earlier this month. Due to an illness, she race walked the half marathon.
She did fine in both races.
Casey was second in the 35-39 age group and fifth overall for women in the Pre with her time of 44 minutes and 41 seconds.
And in the Salmon Run, she was 10th among women and 18th overall in 2 hours and 8 seconds.
Despite any setbacks, she was ready to race at the Around Taihu International Race Walking 2019 event. Instead of just one race, competitors raced a 20K on Sunday followed by a 12K race on both Monday and Tuesday. No results had been published by press time.
“I’m as healthy as can be. I have a chronic hamstring injury that flairs up on and off but I’m not sick anymore so I think I’m ready to have some fun in China,” said Casey. “I have no idea what to expect or how it’s going to go. It’s going to be an adventure.”