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Kondrach wins men’s half marathon walk

Barnesville, Ohio, native ends Slusser’s streak

August 20, 2011
By DAVE POE (dpoe@newsandsentinel) , News and Sentinel Half Marathon

PARKERSBURG -For each of the past three years, Don Slusser has won the walk division of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon.

On Saturday, his bid for a four-peat ended when Carl Kondrach of Barnesville, Ohio, broke the tape in 2:09:35, three minutes and three seconds ahead of runner-up Slusser.

Kondrach, 39, flexed his muscles, as he crossed the finish line, and why not?

After all, the member of the River City Runners and Walkers Club is known for his prowess at a much shorter distance, 5K races (3.1 miles). Plus, he was told by a spotter on the course he was six minutes behind the leader at the 8-mile mark.

Such comebacks seldom occur in racewalking. But the leader, 29-year-old Lee Stough, started having physical problems and Kondrach caught and passed him. Stough wound up third.

Kondrach is more used to organizing races than participating in them as he is a well-known race director in the Wheeling area.

Slusser, one of the great ambassadors of the running and walking communities, congratulated both Kondrach for his victory and Stough for his gutsy performance. Slusser had Stough not incurred problems he would have run the race as he was setting a blistering pace with which none of the others could keep up.

"Lee should have won today,'' Slusser said, "He had a big lead at the 9-mile mark.''

Slusser not only was pleased with his time, but he was thrilled by the way he and his wife Tammy, who won the masters division of the half marathon, were treated in Parkersburg.

"This is the 23rd time we've been here,'' Slusser said. "We missed the first two races because we know it existed.

But once the Slussers made their first visit to Parkersburg, they were hooked.

"This community does a great job,'' Slusser said. "You've got more volunteers than participants in the race. And the people along the route are just fantastic.''

When told by a local that many runners mark the Parkersburg race first on their annual calendar, Slusser concurred.

"We'll be here every year,'' he said. "I have been trying to get people to come down from the Pittsburgh area. I tell them if they do it once, they'll keep coming back. I've never seen a community that gets so involved.''

Slusser used to run the half marathon, but knee surgery in 2005 forced him to slow down. He ran the two-mile that year, then started walking the half marathon.

Slusser is a regular at the Pittsburgh Marathon. He is a member of its sole survivors group, whose membership is limited to those who never have missed the 11-year-old race. Slusser said only 23 persons have run every race.

Slusser said it is the little touches that Parkersburg does that makes the race special. For example, it has color coded bibs that allow the walkers to identify each other.

Plus, he and the other runners appreciate the medals they receive when they finish the race.



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