Sunday, August 14, 2011

In the "Spotlight" with Chester

Half Fanatic of the Year 2010, Chester from Key West Florida!

Chester “Southernmost Walker” Kalb
  I did not begin race walking until 1999.  I had been a runner from 1969 to 1986 when the pain in my knees would not let me run anymore.  I was just an average runner until 1976 when I spent the summer running and walking from Cincinnati, Ohio to Washington DC to Cape Kennedy, Florida to Disney World, Florida.  After that I became a very successful runner who usually did 5K races, but also did longer races, including many marathons.  In the Cincinnati area I was usually able to finish first or second in my age group and had a 5K personal best of 15:56 in 1979.  In 1984 I had a fourth overall in a marathon in Columbus, Ohio and a tenth overall in a marathon in Athens, Ohio.  My personal best was a 2:50:24 on April 8, 1984.  I began travelling to other places to compete.  I have always enjoyed travelling.

After I stopped running I began walking 3 to 5 miles a day recreationally.  When I retired from Ohio teaching in 1998, I moved to Key West, Florida where I taught for 10 more years and continued to walk recreationally until 1999 when I met my current wife, Gerda, who liked to run in the local races.  After watching her do one race, I decided that I would rather participate than just watch.  I reasoned that if I could walk faster than the slowest runner that no race director would complain about me being in the race.  I found out that I could walk faster than a lot of the runners and that the competition did not bother my knees. 

Gerda and I were married on October 6, 2000.  By the summer of 2001 we began to discuss the possibility of travelling to other places to do races.  We decided that we should do something more challenging than a 5K.  I saw an add in Runner’s World that said there was a marathon and half marathon in Disney World on January 6, 2002 and the marathon had a walking division.  We entered and had successful races as Gerda was 5th in her age group and I was 6th overall and second in my age group in the walking division.  I also entered another marathon the next weekend in Clearwater, Florida and counted as a runner even though I walked the entire event.  I enjoyed marathons.  I also decided that if I was going to get into shape for one marathon that the same training could carry over and allow me to do several marathons relatively close together.  Being a teacher I operated in school years.  My yearly totals per year began to increase: 2, 3, 7, 13, and 17.  It turned out that my marathon walking times were reasonably fast as 18 of my first 19 marathons were under 5 hours.  My best walking time occurred on January 25, 2004 in Tampa, Florida where I finished in 4:42:52.  Except for the first Disney Marathon none of the other marathons had walking divisions including Disney because too many people can not understand that if you enter a race as a walker, you must walk every step of the event, not jog and walk.

I found that the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 20, 2004 had a walker division and entered.  My overall first place time was 4:46:23.  This was my first non-Florida walking marathon.  By February of 2004 I had finished a marathon in 10 different states and met several people who were members of the 50 State Marathon Club and the Marathon Maniacs.  I joined both organizations.  I began trying to earn stars in the Marathon Maniacs while completing marathon in many more different states.  In 2007 I decided that 2008 would be the year I finish my 50 states and earn my 10 stars.  The Dunkin Donuts Marathon in Falmouth, Massachusetts on October 26, 2008 was my 50th state plus DC and the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama was my level 10 Titanium marathon.  I also hurt my left knee in the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa, Florida on November 30, 2008.  Between May 18, 2008 and May 17, 2009, I finished a total of 42 marathons and had a streak of 18 marathons in 18 weeks.
When the Half Fanatics were started in July of 2009, I quickly joined on July 21, 2009.  I decided that I would concentrate on half marathons after completing my 135th marathon, the Pikes Peak Marathon on August 16, 2009. Ever since the injury mentioned above, my left knee would begin hurting as I neared mile 18 in a marathon.  My knee improved as I could finish half marathons with out pain. In the Half Fanatics I reached level 10 on August 28, 2010 at the Mesa Falls Half Marathon in Ashton, Idaho.

2010 also saw me become 1st place Male Half Fanatic of the Year.  My quest to reach a half marathon in all 50 states plus DC is at 47 with the other 3 states to be completed in October of 2011, finishing in New Orleans.   So far I am the only Marathon Maniac and Half Fanatic to reach level 10 in both organizations and when I finish my other three states I will also be the only one to have both a marathon and a half marathon in all 50 states plus DC.
My quest towards the 50 half marathons has been a little more challenging than the quest toward the 50 marathons as on August 23, 2009 I was diagnosed as having a pulmonary embolism from which I fortunately have recovered.  My left knee has also deteriorated to the point where there is no cartilage in part of my knee and I will need to have a knee replacement before too much longer.  When that happens I intend to end my race walking career on go back to being a recreational walker

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