WHEELING - Saturday was filled with firsts on the streets of downtown Wheeling, and most important among those is that a local product, Wheeling native Colin Gundling, was the first to cross the finish line.
The 35th annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Run and Walk turned out to be a good day for participants, as overcast skies and mild temperatures early in the day turned into bright sunshine and warmer temperatures at the end of the race.
Gundling grew up in Woodsdale before leaving Wheeling at age 12 to move with his family to Pittsburgh. He still lives in the Steel City and returns to Wheeling each year to participate in the Ogden race.
Wheeling native Colin Gundling, No. 471, is shown during the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Run and Walk on Saturday.
Last year, Gundling and his brother, Ryan, ran the Ogden race in 1970s get-up, hoping to beat a time of 1:18 set by their father, Val Gundling, when the family still lived in Wheeling. They fell about two minutes short.
Colin Gundling made sure on Saturday that he would set a mark for his father to be proud of.
"Coming into (Saturday), I never thought I'd do anything like this. I was shooting for first in my age group," Gundling said. "This is so unreal."
Gundling finished in a time of 1:20:25, right ahead of the 1:21:09 posted by second place Jason Newport of Eaton, Ohio.
"This event was such a success on a lot of levels," Race Director R. "Scat" Scatterday said. "One in particular was that we had a local winner for the first time.
"We always invite visitors and we love having them, but there is just a special feel about having someone from the area win."
There was nothing new on the women's side as Maria Busienei, a Charleston-based runner, claimed her second straight championship with a time of 1:26:56, good for 10th overall.
Despite the change in the length of the course, it made no difference to Busienei.
"I got to the 10-mile mark and my arm and legs were hurting," Busienei said. "The hills are tough."
Tammy Slusser of Monroeville, Pa., came in second, but far behind Busienei's time, posting a 1:31:06.
The male winner of the Half Marathon walk was Lee Strough of Glassport, Pa., in a time of 2:10:20. Katherine Ervin of Quaker City, Ohio, finished first among the women and fourth overall (2:24:06).
Another Wheeling resident captured a championship as Kelly Mortakis, a Wheeling Central graduate, came in first among the women in the 5K run with a time of 19:45:02.
"I run with my former cross country coach at Wheeling Central, and she told me to go. So I went for it," Mortakis said. "I had no idea that I would be the first girl."
Like Busienei, the winner of the male 5K was a repeat from last year as David McCollam finished in 15:29.56, 13 seconds faster than last year.
Finishing second was Kansas' Aaron Yoder, the winner of Friday's Ogden Mile.
Barnesville's Carl Kondrach was the top male 5K walker at 26:02.36. Donna Graham finished in 31:40.69.
Joe Feeney and Nathan Harshberger of New Martinsville finished the Ogden Half Marathon relay in a time of 1:24.13. Coming in second was the Moundsville duo of Steve Kosek and Ed Tullius (1:39.57).
In third was the coed team of Phil Cole and Allison Spiker of St. Clairsville (1:41.45) and Jessica Ewald and Kristina Tomlan of Ada, Ohio were the top female team (1:49.09)