The Physics
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Speed of the Fastest Human, Walking

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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De Pinna, Simon. Forces and Motion Austin, Texas: Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers, 1998. "If you walk as fast as possible, you can probably walk at around 2 m/s and run at about 5 m/s." 2.0 m/s
The World Book Encyclopedia. Volume 21. Chicago: World Book, 2000. "A nonracer walks 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) in 15 to 20 minutes. A heel-and-toe expert can do it in 6.5 minutes" 4.1 m/s
Lawson, Gerald. World Record Breakers in Track and Field Athletics. New York: Human kinetics, 1997. "5000 m 18:51.2 Jozef Pribilinec (cs) Banska Bystrica 5 May 1981" 4.42 m/s
Watman, Melvyn. The Encyclopedia of Athletics. London: Robert Hale, 1973. "1959 D.J.Thompson 4 hr 12 min 19 sec." 3.3 m/s
Fastest men's indoor 5,000-m walk. Guinness World Records, 2000. "The record for the fastest men's indoor 5,000 m walk is held by Russia's Mikhail Shchennikov, with a time of 18 min. 7.08 sec. recorded in Moscow, Russia, on February 14, 1995." 4.60 m/s

Walking is defined as a progression of steps where one foot must always be in contact with the ground. The front foot must make contact with the ground before the rear foot can leave the ground. The heel of the foot must touch the ground first and the toes must be the last to touch the ground. For this reason, walking is also called the "heel and toe"sport. The other rule in walking is that the advancing leg must be straight. This definition of walking prevents competitors from running at competitions. Racewalkers are expected to follow these two rules.

Racewalking has been an official sport at the Olympics for over 90 years. Although it is not a popular track and field sport in the US compared to running or jumping. Racewalking distances vary from 1 mile to 25 miles.

According to the World Book Encyclopedia, an expert walker can walk one mile in 6.5 minutes. This is about 4.1 m/s. From the Forces and Motion book, we find that a fast walker can walk around 2 m/s.

D.J. Thompson won for being the fastest walker back in 1958 when he completed a 50,000 m walk in 4 hours, 12 minutes and 19 seconds. This means he walked at a speed of about 3.3 m/s. On May 5, 1981, Joseph Pribilinec broke that record and walked 5000 m in 18 minutes, and 51.2 seconds, walking at about 4.42 m/s.

As of January 2001, Mikhail Shchennikov holds the record for the fastest 55000 m walk, which was recorded on February 14, 1995. Shchennikov completed the 5000 m in 18 minutes, and 7.08 seconds with a speed of 4.60 m/s.

Connie Lau -- 2001