Magaly Bonilla set a South American record of 4:19:43 in the women’s 50km at the 21st South American Race Walking Championships on Saturday (10) in Sucúa, Ecuador, the third leg of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge.

Contested for the first time in the history of the championships, the women’s 50km was held alongside the men’s race. 26-year old Bonilla was never challenged by the other women in the field and won in 4:19:43, eclipsing the previous record by almost 20 minutes.

“It’s a demanding event,” said Bonilla, whose time was faster than the bronze medal-winning performance from the IAAF World Championships London 2017. “I struggled with two kilometres to go, but I managed to finish. We only decided to do this event in December.

“I will walk 50km again in May,” added Bonilla, who will contest the event at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships Taicang 2018. “I expect to improve much more.”

Compatriot Johana Ordóñez also finished well inside the previous record, placing second in 4:28:58, ahead of previous area record-holder Nair da Rosa, who also improved her personal best to 4:38:48.

Sucúa has been a successful course for Bonilla, who set her 20km personal best of 1:32:44 there in 2017.

In the men’s event, Olympian James Aurelio Rendón bided his time right to overtake Ecuador’s David Gerardo Velázquez in the latter stages of the race to claim gold for Colombia in 4:03:42.

The 2011 Pan American Games 20k silver medallist was followed by Velázquez (4:07:47), who led until 45km, and another local athlete, Darwin León (4:13:12) in the finish line. The host country took the top honours in the team standings.

In the 20km, 2017 IAAF Race Walking Challenge winner Erica de Sena held off the challenge of Ecuador’s 2015 Pan American Games bronze medallist Paola Perez to take gold for Brazil in 1:30:22, 15 seconds ahead of Pérez.

Previous South American winner Kimberley García joined that duo in the first half of the race and had to settle for third in 1:32:48. García, sixth-placed Leydy Guerra and 10th-place finisher Evelyn Inga combined their performances to give Peru the team title.

In the absence of South America’s top two 20km specialists – Colombia’s world champion Eider Arevalo and Brazil’s Caio Bonfim – 50km specialist Andres Chocho led a home sweep in the shorter distance, his second win of the season after taking the 50km in Monterrey two weeks earlier.

Chocho was joined by fellow Ecuadorian Mauricio Arteaga in the lead as they progressively separated themselves from the rest of the field. The 34-year old showed his experience over his younger compatriot to finish first in 1:22:51 and retain the regional crown he last won in Salinas, also at home, in 2016.

“I felt well during the race, but I felt the effects of the 50km in Mexico towards the end,” said Chocho, who now leads the Race Walking Challenge standings. “This is my third time racing in Sucúa. It’s a good course and the people here motivate you to do your best. Looking forward to Taicang, we won a team bronze in 2016 and we can repeat or do better this time around.”

Mauricio Arteaga (1:23:13) and Bryan Pintado (1:24:16) joined him on the podium and secured the team title for the host nation.

Ecuador also dominated the races among the younger athletes thanks to María Belén Villalba in the U18 women’s 5km and world U18 champion Glenda Morejón in the U20 women’s 10km.

After one stop in Australia and two in Latin America, the Race Walking Challenge now moves to Rio Maior, Portugal, the last competition before the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships in May. The seven-leg series will end in China in September.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF

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