WHEELING - It was a beautiful morning for a nice, brisk walk.
Safe to say, Carl Kondrach found Saturday's weather much to his liking at the 38th Annual Ogden Half-Marathon Walk.
Over the last two years, Kondrach, a Barnesville native, finished second in the men's half-marathon walk.
"Last year, it was cold, and I cramped up pretty bad," Kondrach said. "Two years ago it was extremely hot. Today, the weather was perfect. It wasn't hot, it wasn't cold, the humidity was just perfect."
His performance mirrored that, as the 42-year-old won the event with a time of 2:01.21, edging Moundsville's Gary Bennett by six seconds.
Monroeville, Pa. native Don Slusser was third (2:17.34).
It was a special victory for Kondrach, coming nearly a year after the death of his adopted father, Richard Jennison, a United State's military veteran.
"It's been almost a year since he passed and I wanted to dedicate this race to him," Kondrach said. "He was really watching over me today. It was a great race. My legs started to cramp up but I gutted it out. I had some great competition pushing me and I was able to pull it out at the end."
Like many of his walking competitors, Kondrach came into competitive walking through running.
"Over the years, I've realized that walking is just as competitive as running and I train just as hard," Kondrach said. "We don't get as much respect as runners. Sometimes I'm able to beat some of them and that makes them mad. But, having been a runner, I know we train just as hard as they do. I've directed four races in the past in the Barnesville area and we always make the awards, the event, as friendly for the walkers as it is for the runners. We know how hard we train."
Kondrach's training partner, Kathy Ervin, a former Wheeling native who now lives in Quaker City, was certainly no stranger to the victory stand.
Her victory in the women's walk was her sixth overall walking championship.
Ervin broke the tape at 2:25.34, which was good enough for fourth overall.
"My time was about two minutes off what I did last year but overall, I'm happy with the result," Ervin said. "I didn't have as much competition pushing me. Last year I had my twin sister here and she really pushed me."
Ervin, 47, started running in 1993 and made the move to competitive walking in 1997. She said competing in a walking marathon remains on her bucket list.
"I actually can walk faster than I run," she said. "And overall, it is better on the knees, the joints. We do train hard. I do a lot of training in the Barnesville area and there are a lot of hills which gets you ready for a tough course like this."
Leigh Ferris of Pittsburgh was second (2:35.51) and Wheeling's Mickey Speaker was third (2:36.50).