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National Champion race walker competes with his friend

Sunday, July 27, 2014 | 7:11 p.m. CDT; updated 8:40 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 28, 2014
Road race participants gather at the corner of Sudbury Drive and Bethel Street at about 8 a.m. for the start of the road race competition of the Show-Me State Games on Sunday.

COLUMBIA — Dave Couts grabbed a cup of water and sat on the bench as if nothing had happened.

Couts, 59, from Whiteside, had just won first place in the 55-59 age range of the 2014 Show-Me State Games race walking event Sunday.

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You could never tell from his straight-faced reaction after the race, though.

Couts is no stranger to winning; he's a national champion and national recordholder in race walking.

He won first place in both the 1500m and 5000m race walking events in the 55-59 age range at the 2011 and 2013 National Senior Games, according to the National Senior Games Association website.

In 2011, he set the national record for the 5000m race walk in the 55-59 age range at 25:26 minutes. He also holds the national record for the 1500m race walk in the 55-59 age range at 7:10 minutes, which he set in 2013.

Sunday at the Show-Me State games, Couts was enjoying the chance to compete with one of his friends from St. Louis, Gene Hall, who is a part of the Racewalkers' Club of St. Louis with Couts.

Hall, 55, who has only been race walking for three years, won second place Sunday behind Couts, who has been race walking for more than 26 years. 

Race walking is different than running because competitors must have one foot on the ground at all times, with the lead leg straightened as it makes contact with the ground, according to the U.S.A. Track & Field website.

Couts and Hall agreed that Sunday was a beautiful day to get out there and race walk, no matter who won or lost.

But Couts still found a way to joke about beating Hall.

He turned to Hall, who was sitting next to him on the bench after the race, and said: "He's still a youngster."

Couts and Hall said that they love coming to the Show-Me State Games because it is a chance for a whole range of ages and fitness levels to come together.

"This is wonderful," Hall said. "A lot of the same people come back each year, and some of us know people from college, so it's almost like a running and walking fraternity."

Couts and Hall met through through the Racewalkers' Club, and it was Couts who encouraged Hall to continue with race walking.

"I picked it up because I got injured running," Hall said. "I knew I couldn't run, but I knew I could race walk, and then through people in our club, I learned if I put in some work, I could be very competitive in race walking."

Couts said he and Hall are competing in other events at the Show-Me State Games Sunday for fun.

"When we go to the triple jump in a little bit, your long legs should be cut off at the ankles," Couts said to Hall. "Having long legs is an unfair advantage." 

Supervising editor is Joe Guszkowski.


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