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Racewalking Postal Marks and First Day Covers


Racewalking has featured on many postage stamps from various countries around the world (see http://www.vrwc.org.au/vrwcstamps.shtml). But this is not the only philatelic item that might feature racewalking in one way or onother. A first day cover (FDC) is an envelope whereupon postage stamps have been cancelled on their first day of issue. Other specialist items of interest include Postal Cards and Pre-Stamped Envelopes.

The following are examples of FDCs, Postal Cards and Pre-Stamped Envelopes related to racewalking. Special thanks to Alex Wijsman, Vic Miller and Margaret and Ian Beaumont for their expert philatelic help.

1935 Hungary
1935 - Hungary

It’s not just stamps that can get the dedicated collector a bit confused. Have a look at this postmark from the University Games 1935 at Budapest. Is certainly looks like a racewalker, doesn’t it.

Web page http://www.gbrathletics.com/ic/wsg.htm shows the medalists in all T&F events contested in the University Games between 1923 and 1957. Only one walk result is listed, for 1957. I also found wikipedia pages listing all the medallists for the 1923, 1924, 1930 and 1935 Games and walks were not contested in any of them.
See list of events in 1935 Games at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1935_International_University_Games.  So the available evidence seems to suggest that the walk did  not come into the Uni Games until 1957. Hence what we have here is a dodgy image of a very ungainly runner.
1949 Czechoslovakia
1949 – Czechoslovakia First Day Cover

Poděbrady is a historical spa town in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. Starting in 1929, a 50km racewalk from Prague to Poděbrady was held annually. In the early 1990s, because of safety concerns, the event was moved to the ring road in Poděbrady but it is still held every year as a large international racewalking carnival. Events for women were added in 1982 (5km initially, then 10km and now 20km) and the meet now includes international matches for Junior and Youth walkers.

The postal mark on this First Day cover, dated 1949, specifically mentions the MEZINARODNI ZAVOD V CHUZI 50KM (INTERNATIONAL 50KM RACE WALK) from PRAHA (PRAGUE) TO PODEBRADY and features a walker. The stamp is not racewalking related but the postmark is.

See some footage of the 1959 Prague to Podebrady 50km, featuring Don Thompson of England, in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WlWM-8onI8.

I think this is the oldest racewalking related philatelic item.
1954 1L FDC - San Marino
1954 80L FDC - San Marino
1954 - San Marino First Day Covers

The 1954 San Marino 1L and 80L stamps were the first ever racewalking stamps.

Here are the official First Day Covers, dated 28 August 1954. The envelope confirms that the stamps were releated for the International Stamp Fair being held that year in Riccione. The writing on the envelope states:

6th International Stamp Fair
Riccione - S Marino
28 August 1954

This stamp fair is still held annually in Riccione - wow!

1954 San Marino
1955 - San Marino Postal Card

This Postal Card shows Italian walker Giuseppe "Pino" Dordoni (1926-1998) who won the 1952 Olympic 50km gold medal in Helsinki and who was Italian national champion an amazing 26 times from 1946 to 1957. San Marino, although a republic, is of course closely tied to Italy, being completely surrounded by it.

Note that although this stamp was released in 1954, this postal card is postmarked 28 June 1955. That implies it is in fact a special edition of some sort that was released the following year.
1955 San Marino  1955 San Marino
1955 - More San Marino Postal Cards

Here are two further Postal Cards showing Italian walker Giuseppe "Pino" Dordoni (1926-1998) who won the 1952 Olympic 50km gold medal in Helsinki.

The photo with start number 154 is the original and the second is a mirror image. Interesting stuff!

1956 Australia
1956 - Australia

This Australian postcard which was released during the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. The 1956 Olympic postmark, although faint, definitely shows a racewalker. It is dated 22 Nov 1956 - the 50km walk was on Nov 24 and the 20km walk was on Nov 28 so it must have been released at the start of the athletics program. I wonder if other sporting related postmarks were also released during these Games?
1960 San Marino
1960 - San Marino Postal Card

Again, this 1960 First Day postal card also shows Italian walker Giuseppe "Pino" Dordoni. The postal mark shows the Olympic torch and is dated 10-7-1960. The Rome Olympic Games ran from August 26 to Sept 11 so this stamp was obviously released in the leadup to the Games.
1960 San Marino
1960 - San Marino
In 1960, San Marino released another racewalking stamp as part of a collection of 14 stamps celebrating the Rome Olympics of that year.

This First Day Cover features the walking stamp, along with 3 of the other stamps from that release. The date is 24 August 1960. This is a real collector's item!
1965 Luxumburg
1965 - Luxumburg

For many years, before the IAAF started its own Athletics World Championships, the sport of racewalking had its own in the form of the Lugano Trophy. First held in 1961, this competition (now called the IAAF Race Walking World Cup) is held every two years and is the premier racewalking competition on the international calendar.

In 1961, it was held in Lugano in Switzerland. In 1963, it was held in Varese in Italy. In 1965, it was held in Pescara in Italy and this special commemorate postmark was produced by Luxumburg.

1965 - Japan

One of the many racewalking related stamps is a small relatively bland Japanese stamp, released as part of a set of 2 stamps (a walker and a gymnast) in 1965 to celebrate the tenth edition of their National Athletics Meet. It is a composite sketch of a racewalker, with the lower body obviously based on a photo of Volodymyr Holubnychy, the famous Russian Olympic walking champion. But why stop at one copy of the stamp when there are lots of other philatelic items using the stamp. Here are a few, compliments of Alex Wijsman.

It's a shame that the postal stamp on the First Day Covers features the gymnast. I would have been even better, from our perspective, if it had featured the walker!
1975 IOM
1975 – Isle of Man

The second item is a customised postmark advertising the RWA National 20 Miles walk which was held in the Isle of Man in 1975. This is one of a number of such postmarks from the Isle of Man about our sport. Others were released in 1983 and 1985.

1978 Francd
1978 France

We've seen this French stamp before - it was issued in 1978 with the theme 'Sport for All' and featured a racewalker amongst a collage of sportsmen. Other sports featured in the stamp collage included cycling, swimming, boxing, cross country skiing and sprinting.

This First Day Card features a photograph of a walking race as well as a first day postal stamp which shows the walker in action once again.
1980 Russia
1980 - Russian First Day Cover

We have seen this stamp before but this is the official First Day Cover from the Moscow Olympics. This was passed onto me some time ago by Ray Smith and I only just found it.
1980 Russia
1980 - USSR

This Postal Card, issued by the USSR for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, features the sport of racewalking.

1982 Romania 1982 - Romania

This Pre-Stamped Envelope from Romania (1982) features a postman racewalking. Although strictly not a stamp (pre-stamped envelopes are a different kettle of fish) it is another great addition to our racewalking stamps page.

Postman's Races were a regular fixture in UK and Europe and there were even European Championships held in the sixties and seventies.

While Postmans Uniform Walks are still held each year in the UK, the last annual British Postmans Walk was last held a quarter of a century ago. It was resurrected as a once off in 2012, being held in Douglas on the Isle of Man and attracting teams of posties from across Britain. It is hoped that it will now become a regular fixture once again.
1983 Isle of Man
1983 - Isle of Man

We have already seen that the Isle of Man issued Commonwealth Games racewalking stamps in 1978 and 1986. But it also released a racewalk related postal mark in 1983 to commemorate the English Schools Racewalking Championships that were being held in Douglas in May of that year.

1985 Isle of Man
1985 - Isle of Man

The Isle of Man was back in the racewalking headlines again two years later when it hosted the IAAF Race Walking World Cup at St John's. This First Day Cover features Mexican walkers Raul Gonzales and Ernesto Canto and the postal mark, dated 29.9.83, showed a racewalker.
1996 England Ken Matthews
1996 England -Ken Mathews

Ken Matthews was one of four British T&F athletes who won Gold in the 1964 Olympic Games - the others were Lynn Davies (men's long jump), Mary Rand (women's long jump) and Ann Packer (women's 800m). Three were awarded M.B.E.s. The fourth, Matthews, was not and it was not till 14 years later that the misjustice was rectified and he belatedly received his award.

This Olympic Centennary First Day Cover, issued in 1996, does not feature a walking stamp but it does show Ken winning that 1964 Olympic 20km and it has also been signed by Ken. Yes, a real collectors item if you are a walking enthusiast.
1996 Ecuador
1996 – Ecuador

We have already looked at this 1996 Ecuador stamp, celebrating the wonderful Ecuadorian walker Jefferson Perez. This is a First Day Cover for the stamp release.
2002 Portugal 2002 – Portugal

We have also seen this stamp before – it was released by Portugal in 2002 and was one of a set of 8 stamps issued by that country to celebrate sport.

This First Day Postal Card shows the first day postal mark over the stamp. The background picture shows the women's field from the 20km walk at the IAAF World Championships which were held in Edmonton in 2001.
2008 El Salvador FDC
2008 El Salvador

A First Day Cover is sometimes a great way to actually get a copy of the stamps you want. For instance, here is the FDC for the 2008 El Salvador racewalking stamp. It's a beauty that actually gives you the full set.