WHEELING - To most people, a family reunion means having a picnic or going out to a fancy dinner. But that's not exactly Colin and Ryan Gundling's style.
They'd much rather bond by running 13.1 miles over the grueling, up-and-down streets of Wheeling in the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic.
The Wheeling-born brothers now live hours apart - Colin in Sewickley, Pa., Ryan in Virginia - but a Memorial Day weekend meeting is always circled on their calendars.
Photo by Ian Hicks
Brothers Ryan Gundling, left, and Colin Gundling, right, share a family moment with their father, Val Gundling, just after the brothers finished Saturday’s Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic.
"We kind of make it an excuse to all get together. We look forward to this every year," Colin Gundling said shortly after finishing third in Saturday's half marathon with a time of 1:18:41.
Even a brief conversation with the brothers reveals much about the sibling rivalry that drives the Gundlings to push themselves to the limit. Although they support each other during training time, all bets are off when the starter's pistol fires.
"We have a good, friendly rivalry that's pretty much no-holds-barred during the races," Colin said.
Colin's record of success in Ogden race events is tough to match. On Friday evening, he won his second consecutive Ogden Mile and in 2011 became the first Wheeling native to win the 13.1-mile main event.
Ryan Gundling finished 11th Saturday with a still-impressive time of 1:24:46.
"I came out a little too fast and blew up around the end," Ryan said. "That's what happens when you try to chase your brother."
This year, the brothers ran the Boston Marathon for the first time. They said it was an incredible experience, but not even that compares to the challenge of dealing with the Ogden race course's many peaks and valleys, according to Colin.
"It's always one of the tougher races. ... That's what makes it worth coming back to," he said.
Colin and Ryan's father, Val Gundling - who was a regular participant in the event's early years - beams with pride when he talks about his sons and their accomplishments.
"I wish I could tell you I trained them myself, but I had nothing to do with it," Val Gundling said.