HRW honors three distinguished walkers June 6, 2021

The youngest of the three is Karen Swisher, young in years with HRW (just 6 years) but an “elder star” in national racewalking. Karen has also served as President from Dec. 2017 to summer 2020 before moving to Wisconsin to be closer to family. Karen brought a commitment to excellence as President of the club and expanded our membership via social media. During her HRW time, she garnered many awards in national racewalking competitions, including USATF Indoor and Outdoor Gold medals, with national records in the Indoor Mile. She has won numerous medals at National Senior Games and has “owned” the Kansas and Missouri Senior Games. In 2017 she was chosen USATF Senior Racewalker of the Year in her age division (65-69), beating out former Racewalker of the Year Marian Martino, a Hall of Fame racewalker. Just as impressive as her athletic accomplishments are the love and excellence in leadership that she brought to Heartland Racewalkers.

The Second honoree is Tom Oakes, long-time Treasurer and board member of HRW. Tom joined HRW almost 18 years ago when we were located at Health Plus and he saw us on the track and was hooked. He indicated that the health benefits also appealed to him and the “use it or lose it” philosophy. He served as Treasurer for 12 years and kept our club financially secure. His racing memories include taking first place in a club Be-A-Walker 3000-meter race and being on our Patriots Day 9-hr:11-min race team. Tom stated that his memories of HRW, which were reciprocated, include the wonderful friendships that he made with fellow racewalkers.

The top name on the latest plaque is Fred Adams. Fred decided to try racewalking after a a heart attack in 1988 at age 55 when he saw our sport in the St. Louis at the Senior Olympics. He was an athletic champion at an early age, being on the Tangerine Bowl winning football team representing the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He continued racewalking when he moved to Arkansas and looked up our club when he moved to Kansas City. He became a fixture in racewalking in the area and nationally. Fred has won many medals at Missouri and Kansas Senior Games and at National Senior Games and Huntsman World Games. Fred has served as both Clinic Director and Treasurer for our club. Fred performed this service to our club while commuting from homes far away to the north in Liberty and KC North. Fred also gave back to racewalking by participating in community outreach seminars and presentations. He has had his role models in Tom Young and Jean Brunnenkant, our most senior HRW members. Now Fred is a role model to his many friends in HRW.

posted on 02 Aug 2021 by heartland

Sunday Cavallaro 1957-2021

It is with deep sorrow that HRW faced the loss of Sunday Cavallaro, our longtime secretary, clinic director and heart and soul of our club. She passed away after several years of dealing with recurrent cancer without decreasing her joyful inspiration to all of our club members. Sunday transitioned from a full-time runner to a racewalker in 2012 and excelled in local, regional and national races. Even more impressive was the way she could bring joy, humor and support to her fellow racewalkers, including many social gatherings at her home. Her unselfish service to our club was recognized by installation of a plaque bearing her name in November 2020 (see preceding story). We also recognize the service that her husband Rich Cavallaro provided to our club by allowing us to share her time, by frequently providing transportation, by many social gatherings in their home, and supporting HRW over the years. A link to her obituary can be found at: Her memory will live on in the hearts of her family, friends and her extended family, the Heartland Racewalkers.

posted on 04 Apr 2021 by heartland

New HRW Bench Plaques 2020


Two new plaques were installed on the HRW bench in Roe Park on Nov. 7, 2020, honoring Sunday Cavallaro and Alan Poisner. Sunday was honored for her long time service as club secretary and clinic director, for the joy that she brought to our get-togethers, her recognition as winner during the last three consecutive years of the Alan Poisner Service Award, her significant athletic success, and the inspiration that she brought to her fellow club members while dealing with serious medical issues for several years. Alan was recognized for his longtime support of the club since its founding, for his service of 20 years as President and his support of racewalking and racewalkers in the KC area. He also has brought recognition to our club and the Kansas City area by winning Gold medals at multiple national and international competitions. Photos of the installation ceremony can be found in an album in the Pictures link. A special section on Sunday is reported separately in the News.

posted on 04 Apr 2021 by heartland

US Masters Summer Virtual Series


In the absence of national races this year, Erin Talcott, a nationally famous 50K walker, coordinated a 'Virtual Race Walking Series" this summer where walkers could choose their own location and report their results. HRW chose to use the Blue Valley North Track, and also one day in Topeka, for their September series. The distances offered were the one-mile and the 5000 M. HRW had the largest turnout, with 11 walkers participating in one or both races during the first three weeks of September. Our 11th member was our Northern family member, Karen Swisher, who walked a 10K in an excellent time of 1:08:24. Women pedestrians included: Martha McCarter and Lori Groom (55's); Janice Kelble and Karen Swisher (65's); Pat Durkin and Maggie McCoy (70's); and BJ Thornburg (75's). The men were represented by Tom Edmondson (65's); David Eisenberg (70's); John Anderson (75's); and Alan Poisner (85's). The detailed results will be posted in the RESULTS link. Congratulations to all our walkers who earned their certificates by coming out week after week, improving their racing performance and continuing to spread the camaraderie and spirit of racewalking around the community.

posted on 24 Oct 2020 by heartland

Lori Groom makes a trifecta

The summer and fall of 2020 produced a trifecta in racewalking success for HRW's Lori Groom. In August she picked up a couple of Gold Medals in the Nebraska Senior Games in Kearney (1500 M and 5000 M). In September she repeated those twin successes at the Kansas Senior Games in Topeka. To top off this three month haul, she won two more Gold Medals in October in the Louisiana Olympic Senior Games in Hammond, near New Orleans. This was an unusual duo since the two distances were 800 meters and 1500 M. Her time in the latter race was a PR of 8:50.5, 76.1%. We look forward to more Golden seasons for Lori as she adds to her racewalking accomplishments.

posted on 24 Oct 2020 by heartland

Kansas Senior Games 2020

HRW made another impressive display at the annual Kansas Senior Games in Topeka on Sept. 13, with all 11 walkers taking Gold or Silver medals in the 1500 M and 5000 M races. There were four new age-group records set. Pat Durkin set records in the 75-79 division in both races, shattering the record in the 5000 M by three minutes. Maggie McCoy broke the record in the 5000 M race in the 70-74 division by over one minute, and Alan Poisner beat the 5000 M record in the 85-89 division. His time was 43 seconds faster than the record that he set in 2019. An added bonus for HRW was the practice and shadowing judging that John Anderson and BJ Thornburg provided. See the RESULTS link for the details.

posted on 19 Oct 2020 by heartland

Be-A-Walker 2020


The 27th version of the annual Be-A-Walker Predicted-time race was a 3K in Roe Park with a nice temperature (about 65) and field of 14 walkers. They included four who were in a 5K version 15 years earlier (2005).That list included Eileen McManus, Julie Haller, BJ Thornburg and Pam Felton. Once again the winner was not the fastest walker (just barely) when newcomer David Eisenburg burst through in the last few meters to come in first with a 75.1% age-graded finish. But another relative newbie, Lori Groom, took the Gold by coming in just 2 seconds faster than her pre-race prediction. Of course, her strategy included stopping for awhile to tie her shoes. The second place predictor was also amazingly close to her prediction. Julie Haller was just 3 seconds off her prediction, which was close to her 4 second margin in 2006 when she was the Gold medalist in the 5K race. Thanks to those who made this edition go smoothly, including Charlotte, Maggie, John, and Fred. Details will be posted in Results.

posted on 11 Oct 2020 by heartland

Changing of the Guard-2020

Heartland Racewalkers has had a change of leadership in midyear due to Karen Swisher’s move to Wisconsin (see previous story). The new president is the former Vice-president, Pat Durkin, who has already been a significant supporter of HRW and promises to build on the outstanding work of Karen Swisher. The new Vice-President is David Eisenberg, a relatively new member of our club who has shown rapid ascent in racewalking ability and service on our board. The rest of 2020 and beyond looks promising for HRW with continued excellence in leadership. div>
posted on 27 Jul 2020 by heartland

End of an Era: Karen Swisher Moves North

Karen Swisher, President of Heartland Racewalkers since December 2017, is moving to Wisconsin to be near her family in nearby Minnesota. HRW had a celebration picnic in Roe Park in her honor on Saturday, July 26. She gave a thank-you talk to show her love for our club members and heard from many of our club members in return. She was given a Shutterfly book with photos and best wishes from members. The book was a result of the efforts of Rich and Sunday Cavallaro, with photos and notes supplied by many members. To introduce the book, there is a special appreciation message from Alan Poisner that he read to Karen and those assembled. It is shown below.

The state motto of Kansas is “Ad Astra per Aspera”, to the stars through difficulty. Karen Swisher has been the shooting star of the Heartland Racewalkers for the past 6 years.

Karen burst upon our walking scene in 2015 and quickly made her presence known on the racing scene. In April she was on the winning Brew to Brew 43-mile relay team, in June she took first in a local road race that included runners, the Father’s Day 5K, and followed these successes with a Gold Medal in the Kansas Senior Games 1500 M (10:15). The age-graded result (AGR) from that race was 69.8%, that little foretold the heights to which she would rise in competitive racewalking.

In 2016 she took Gold Medals in the Missouri and Kansas Senior Games and the Sunflower Games, achieving 80.9% AGR in the 1500 meters (8:56) in the W 65-69.

2017 was a breakthrough year for Karen in which she won a Gold Medal in the USATF National Masters Indoor Mile in Albuquerque in February and set a record while beating the 2016 USATF National Racewalker of the year (in a dramatic finish). This was just a start for Karen since she later took Gold Medals at other national meets: the National Senior Games in Birmingham where she achieved another high AGR (83.2%) and the USATF National Masters Outdoor Meet in Baton Rouge with two more Golds-5K and 10K (in brutal conditions) and came away with an 86.2% AGR! She also collected two more Golds in the Kansas Senior Games; and just to cap off a remarkable year, she took first place in our club’s annual Be-A-Walker predicted time 3K race with a 4 sec prediction victory. In 2017, Karen was awarded National Masters Racewalker of the Year by the USATF in the 65-69 division, in just her third year of racewalking.

2018 found Karen taking on the leadership of the Heartland Racewalkers as President and expanding our club while again collecting Gold Medals in the Missouri and Kansas Senior Games.

2019 was another year of national triumph as Karen repeated as the 1-mile champion in the USATF National Masters Indoor Meet in Winston-Salem and beat her own record from 2017 and again beating her internationally famous competitor from Colorado. She repeated her two Gold Medal wins at the National Senior Games in Albuquerque and has the fourth fastest time that has ever been walked in her age division. She also took two more Gold Medals in the Kansas Senior Games and continued her unbroken successes in achieving AGR’s of 80% or more. That is the threshold for All-American status for the USATF.

Just as impressive as Karen’s racing victories have been her dedication and service to our club as President the last 3 years. The Heartland Racewalkers would not be where they are today without her expert leadership and friendship to all, including recruiting and mentoring new members.

The “Per Aspera” part of Karen’s walking career has included recovering from a broken arm that barely slowed her down. The “Ad Astra” part of Karen’s resume is the way she has shown us how to shoot for the stars while having fun and bringing along our grateful pedestrians.

posted on 26 Jul 2020 by heartland

Sad News and Happy News at end of 2019

HRW lost an honorary member, Floyd Delon, at the end of the year. Floyd was a long-time member and soul-mate of Martie Lykens Delon another honorary club member. Floyd was 90 and had been a loyal member for many years and had raced locally, regionally and nationally. He met Martie at one of our club sessions and their romance developed during their time in HRW. A donation to the club Service Fund was made in his honor. The happy news is that Alan Poisner received the Racewalker of the Year Award from the USATF National Masters Committee in the 80-84 age division. This is the third time that he has won this award in this division and he also was recognized in the 75-79 division in 2011. In 2020 he will race in the 85-89 division and will enjoy being the baby in the group.>
posted on 19 Dec 2019 by heartland

2020 Officers and 2019 Awards

The annual year-end holiday party was held at Sunday Cavallaro's home once again with good food and fellowship. The election of officers and board members for 2020 resulted as follows: President-Karen Swisher; Vice-President-Pat Durkin; Secretary-Sunday Cavallaro; Treasurer-Tom Oakes; Past-President-Alan Poisner; Board Members at Large-Leslie Brown; Janice Kelble. Several awards were presented. The Alan Poisner Service Award was shared by BJ Thornburg and Sunday Cavallaro. BJ had a terrific year in service to the club, racewalking success and other athletic accomplishments, including finishing a half-marathon in the 70-74 division, and accomplishing a 43-story competitive stair climb for charity. Sunday once again showed remarkable service as our clinic director while dealing with medical issues, kept us all smiling and still managed to get into local, regional and national races. Two other awards were presented. Karen Swisher was presented with a plaque, acknowledging her setting a new American Record in the one-mile walk in the 65-69 age division (breaking her own record from 2017). Alan Poisner was presented with a certificate of appreciation for receiving All-American Status again in 2019 from USATF Masters and his continued mentorship and promotion of racewalking. Karen concluded the meeting with a review of the past year and a preview of 2020 which is anticipated to be another Golden year for Heartland Racewalkers.>
posted on 19 Dec 2019 by heartland

More Medals and Ribbons: Natlonal Senior Games 2019

The biannual National Senior Games in Albuquerque in June saw HRW bringing home a slew of medals and ribbons in both racewalking and the new demonstration sport of power walking. The 1500M race was held at the University of New Mexico track, an excellent facility, while the 5K races were held at the famous Balloon Festival Park on a 1K non-oval lap path. Our defending Gold Medal winners from 2017, Karen Swisher and Alan Poisner repeated in the 1500M and 5K walks, Karen in the 65-69 and Alan in the 85-89 (although he was in the 80-84 division in 2017). Alan’s times were new records for his age division. Other racewalk medalists and ribbon winners included newcomer Manna Caffrey-Silver medals in both races, Juie Haller-Bronze in the 1500M, Fred Adams-Bronze in 1500M and Silver in 5K; Martha McCarter-5th place ribbon in 1500M and 8th place ribbon in 5K. In the Powerwalking event, Martha McCarter brought home Silver in the 1500M and Gold in the 5K. Matt McCarter took 4th place in the 1500M and 6th place in the 5K. BJ Thornburg garnered 6th place ribbons in both races. This was an auspicious debut for the McCarters and HRW in an event that might become a regular feature in future Senior Games. The results have been posted in the HRW Results and the Kansas City Star There were other notable (but not positive) events at this year’s Senior Games: a never-before experienced 1.5 to 2.5 hour wait that athletes had to stand in line at registration to pick up their credentials and materials, with the unhappy crowd at the Albuquerque Convention Center resembling rush hour at a New York subway station; and another unprecedented delay in announcing winners in the 5K that also lasted over 2 hours , and caused some winners to miss their opportunity to be on the winners stand. Nonetheless, our HRW gang along with a large support group of family and friends, did some fun dining together, had a great time at this year’s event, and look forward to the next edition in 2021 in Ft. Lauderdale.
posted on 22 Jul 2019 by heartland
HRW Strike Gold-USATF Natl Masters Indoor
March 1 and2, Winston-Salem, NC saw our defending Gold Medal winners repeat at the annual indoor meet. In the one-mile race Karen Swisher not only defended her win from 2017 in Albuquerque, but also set a new American Record, beating her old record by 3 seconds in a time of 9:46. In doing so, she once again beat USATF Hall of Fame walker Marianne Martino in the 65-69 division. Although Alan did not finish that race, he holds the American Record in the 80-84 age division. In the 3000-meter race on March 2, Karen took the Silver medal to add to her collection of national medals. Alan, a veteran of many USATF races, took the Gold in the 80-84 division for the third time in the 3000-meter race in that age division. The results will be posted in the HRW Results link. a report in the Kansas City Star can be seen at:
posted on 16 Mar 2019 by heartland

Heartland Racewalkers Officers 2018-2019

HRW officers were elected for 2018 and reelected for 2019: Serving as President: Karen Swisher; Vice-President: Charlotte Haupt; Secretary and Clinic Director: Sunday Cavallaro; Treasurer: Tom Oakes; Past President: Alan Poisner; Other Board Members 2019: Fred Adams, Maggie McCoy. We thank them all for keeping HRW among the top racewalking clubs in U.S.
posted on 12 Jan 2019 by heartland

Alan Poisner Does it Again in 2017

Alan Poisner, founding member and past-president of the Heartland Racewalkers, repeated as USATF Masters Racewalker of the Year in his age division (80-84). He had previously won this award in 2011 and 2015. This was based on his Gold Medal wins at the USATF National Indoor in Albuquerque (one-mile and 3000 meters) and the National Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge (5000 meters and 10K). He was also recognized for setting a new record in the Indoor one-mile walk. In the 9 national and international races in 2017 he earned 9 Gold Medals. This year had some serious challenges, including racing the 5K in the National Senior Games in Birmingham during a drenching rain on a course full of puddles and sloping surfaces. Also a challenge was the 10K race in Baton Rouge where the humidity was greater than his finishing time (76 min) and survival was the goal. After the Indoor meet in Albuquerque, Alan went further south to compete in the World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand. This is described in the news item posted in May. He competed in the 1500 meter and 3000 meter racewalks and took Gold in both, achieving an 86.1% age-grading result in the 1500 meter race. He also beat the Russian who had come in second to him in 2011 in the World Masters Athletics Championships. This guy probably was taking the wrong drugs. After New Zealand, the next two events were also south, but in the U.S. In the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alan repeated as the Gold Medalist in both the 1500 meter and the 5K walks in the 80-84 division (now at age 83). Then at the USATF National Masters Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge, he took Gold in the 5000 meter race on the track (LSU) and the 10K on the road (mentioned above). The final national race was the biannual State Games of America which was held in Grand Rapids, MI. Our club was instrumental in part in including racewalking as an official event, just like it was in 2015 in Lincoln, NE. Alan was the sole representative of HRW, although other club members had qualified by taking medals in the Sunflower Games or the ShowMe games. He repeated his 2015 win by taking Gold in the 1500 meter walk. In addition to these achievements for racewalking against walkers, he also won a Phidippides Award from the National Masters News for his participation and wins in many road races (racewalking against runners). He has now won this award 6 times. 2017 has been a special racing season for Alan, now in his 33rd year as a racewalker.
posted on 23 Dec 2017 by heartland

Karen Swisher Excels in 2017

Karen Swisher had a spectacular year in just her third year as a racewalker, garnering awards that had not previously been earned by women in our club. She started out the year by competing in the USATF National Masters Indoor Championships in Albuquerque in March, the first national USATF meet that she had ever entered. The first event was the one-mile walk, a rarely held distance (usually 1500 meters) and Karen not only took first place, she beat the former Racewalker of the Year, Marian Martino, nipping her at the last stride by 0.5 sec AND she set a new national indoor record for her age group (65-69). Adding to her Gold Medal, the next day she took Silver in the 3000 meter walk. Next on Karen’s 2017 walking victory march was the National Senior Games in Birmingham, AL in June. At this location, she took Gold in the 5K race while it was raining and beat 32 of the 34 other women in the 50-69 divisions except two who were 10 years younger. Her time was good enough to earn an All-American Award (81.7%). She followed this up two days later by taking another Gold in the 1500 meter walk, beating the other 8 women in the 65-69 division and all 10 walkers in the 60-64 age division. She again attained an age-graded finish greater than 80%. The next national competition, the USATF National Masters Outdoor Championships, was even further south, Baton Rouge, and in July. That means HOT and HUMID, and it was. But Karen was really hot, taking two more Golds (5000 meters on the track and 10K on the road) in really brutal conditions. Her time in the 5K, 30:28, was good enough for 86.2% and she came in ahead of all of the 8 other women who dared to race under the glaring sun for over one hour. Finally, just to keep her winning form going strong, she entered the Kansas Senior Games in September and took Golds in the 1500 meter and 5000 meter walks, beating all of the men and women in both events. As a result of her performance in the USATF races, Karen earned the USATF Masters Racewalker of the Year in the 65-69 age division, which was a spectacular result in this just her third year of racewalking. Because of this record that had never been achieved by women in the Heartland Racewalkers in its 29 years, Karen was given a special trophy by her fellow competitor, Alan Poisner, a founding member of Heartand Racewalkers, who has 32 years experience in competing in national races, and can’t keep up with Karen any more. But neither can many others around the country. Congratulations, Karen.
posted on 20 Dec 2017 by heartland

HRW 2017 Annual Party and Election

HRW held its annual year-end party at the home of Sunday Cavallaro on Dec. 2. President BJ Thornburg with the help of the Board gave a report of the year's activities. Alan Poisner, the past president, acting as chair of the nominating committee then presented the list of officers and board members for 2018. These were voted in by acclamation and the list is shown below. The Alan Poisner Service Award for 2017 was presented to Karen Swisher (also a 2016 recipient) for her dedicated service to the club. A series of special awards was then presented to Karen along with a trophy and that is described in a later message. Karen, as incoming President, then gave her view of our club's activities in the coming year with lots of interesting events planned. Also discussed was a plan suggested by Alan to expand our club's mission to include power walkers in our community. That will be codified in a updated By-Laws that will be presented in the new year. The club expressed their thanks to BJ for her two years of service as President with cards and some special gifts. As usual, the annual gift/door-prize activity was again a popular way to conclude our 29th year as one of the premier racewalking clubs in the country. Officers and Board Members for 2018 President Karen Swisher; Vice-President Charlotte Haupt; Secretary Sunday Cavallaro; Treasurer Tom Oakes; Asst. Treasurer Steve Fraley Clinic Director Sunday Cavallaro; Past President Alan Poisner; Photographer Maggie McCoy; Website Mntce. Alan Poisner/Karen Swisher; At Large members: Fred Adams, Pat Durkin, Maggie Link
posted on 20 Dec 2017 by heartland

National Masters News Story on Alan Poisner

The National Masters News featured an article about Alan Poisner in the June/July Issue. Read it here
posted on 29 Jul 2017 by heartland

Poisner takes Golds at 2017 World Masters Games

HRW past-president and founding member Alan Poisner brought more honors to our club by taking two gold Medals in the World Masters Games held in Auckand, New Zealand. This event is held every four years and is larger than the Olympics. It drew 28,000 athletes and supporters from 100 countries who competed in 46 sports in 5-year age divisions. Alan entered the 1500- and 3000-meter walks in the 80-84 division that were held on April 25 and 26. His winning times of 9:53.8 and 20:54.4 were good enough to beat walkers from Russia, Canada and New Zealand and corresponded to 86.1% and 83.3% in age-grading. In the 3000-meter walk, he also beat all three medal winners in the 75-79 division. Alan commented that “it was a long way to go (9000 miles) just to walk a little less than 1 and 2 miles”. He previously took Gold in the 5000-meter walk in the World Masters Games in 1998 in Eugene, OR and in the 5000-meter walk in the World Masters Athletics Championships in Sacramento, CA in 2011. >
posted on 17 May 2017 by heartland

New Year's Day Fun Race

Several of us showed up for the New Year's Day fun race. We had fun, but we didn't really race walk because the paths were covered with ice. We did, however, enjoy the traditional post-race breakfast at LePeep. I think Phil is still eating his HUGE pancakes! Pictures on Flikr
posted on 18 Jan 2016 by heartland

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