Endurance Challenge Raises Thousands for American, British Soldiers


Staff Writer

WHEELING – They say if there is no pain, there is no gain.

In the case of a team of men pushing their minds and bodies during the past 24 hours to raise money for wounded soldiers, there was both.

Dubbed the Mount Everest Extreme Endurance Challenge, the event began with a half-marathon run at 7 a.m. Saturday in Wheeling, followed by a climb-and-rappel at the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department equivalent to scaling Mount Everest and finishing up with another half-marathon run that began about 7 this morning.

The team includes Ohio County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Bracher-Musty, Deputy Rich White, Deputy Kris Waechter, sheriff’s Sgt. Alex Espejo, Wheeling Police Cpl. Dave Gittings and Army Maj. Kevin Hazuka, who is a former Bluefield, W.Va., police officer.

Some members said Saturday evening they were doing well despite having sore leg muscles. But perhaps the man enduring the most pain was Hazuka. Early in first run he hurt his knee, which kept him from finishing or attempting to rappel.

He believes he may have torn something, but one would have never known it judging by his attitude.

”They’re awesome. They keep going and going,” Hazuka said of his teammates while holding a large plastic bag of ice he was using to take the swelling off his knee.

Hazuka said he was looking forward to the team receiving accolades and an award sometime after today’s run slated to be presented by Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie and Col. H.B. Gilliam of the West Virginia National Guard.

By about 6 p.m. Saturday, Bracher-Musty, a native of Great Britain, said the challenge had raised about $13,000 for two charities: Help for Heroes, a British charity, and the Green Beret Foundation, an American charity.

”It’s going smooth. I’m just tired, no pain,” Gittings said before climbing 65 feet to the top of the building via a Wheeling Fire Department ladder truck. ”I think it will be funner in the dark. We’ll have to pay attention more in the dark. … This is all stuff we enjoy.”

Gittings noted the group already is brainstorming ideas for a future extreme charity event.

”It will have to be pretty interesting,” he said.

White said the challenge was going well though he was feeling some pain in his legs.

Waechter said he was feeling good and noted the group did take breaks here and there.

”The ladder is the hardest part and the rappelling is the best part,” Waechter said. ”It’s a good cause. We’re helping some wounded soldier somewhere.”

Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms noted the men were completing about 10-15 sets before taking breaks. He added a few of his firefighters, including himself, were donating their time while others were officially on duty to make sure the group stayed safe.

”They seem to be pretty alert. Earlier in the day it was extremely hot,” Helms said.

Though the run portion began at the sheriff’s department on 16th Street most of it followed the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic race course. At different points in the run about 15 members of the public participated, though only one did the entire distance, Dr. Garry Lewis of Moundsville. The climb and rappel was equivalent to reaching the peak of Mount Everest – 29,029 feet – or up and down the building a total of 926 times, which was divided among the teammates.