Walking — Fast — Toward an Olympic Dream

Race Walker Curt Clausen Goes the Distance, with Patience

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U.S. race walker Curt Clausen

U.S. race walker Curt Clausen, 36, during a recent workout at the Chula Vista Marina south of San Diego, Calif. Clausen will compete for the U.S. team in the 50-kilometer walk at the Athens Olympics this summer. Tom Goldman, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Tom Goldman, NPR

This summer in Athens, Olympic competition will end, as usual, with the men's marathon, a 26-mile race many consider the most grueling event of the Games.

Race walkers, however, would disagree with that assessment. The 50-kilometer walk, in fact, is the longest foot race in the Olympics. But instead of respect, most race walkers get ridiculed for competing in what's often called a weird-looking sport.

As part of an occasional series on the upcoming Summer Games, NPR's Tom Goldman profiles Curt Clausen, America's best long-distance race walker — an athlete who's honed his patience in a sport that pushes him to move as fast as he can without breaking into a run.

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