Mortakis Keeping Up Family Tradition

9:59 am Sunday, May 26, 2019

By JOSH STROPE
Sports Editor
WHEELING — The Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic is a tradition for the Mortakis family.
Sue Mortakis was a runner for a number of years and despite being no longer able to compete, her daughter, Kelley, is taking up the mantle.
Kelley Mortakis crossed the finish line in a time of 1:29:45.03, becoming the first female to finish the race. The Wheeling native was 11th overall.
“Awesome,” Mortakis said as she received a hug from her mother. “This race means a lot to me and my family. My mom is no longer able to run. To be able to do this alongside some of the legends such as the Ironmen and Becky Droginske, it means a lot. This year I feel there is a lot more people which makes it mean even more.
“This is such a good thing for the valley.”
This is the third time running the race for Mortakis — the second time running the half marathon after participating in the relay.
The former Wheeling Central cross country and current Bridge Street Middle School track coach notched her first victory in impressive fashion.
Mortakis easily outdistanced the next closest female runner — Tammy Slusser of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, who finished in 1:38:23.19.
“I secretly wanted to break 1:30 and I snuck right under so that is definitely my best time,” Mortakis said. “I was running with a lot of guys in the beginning and I didn’t see any females around.”
Despite having only run the race a few times, Mortakis felt confident heading into Saturday morning.
“I actually do like running hills, even though they are terrible in this race,” she said. “I feel they help me out because I can get up them quickly and try to recover. Plus, I am from Wheeling, so I run that National Road part nearly every day.”
Mortakis says she will be moving out of the area, but that she will be back to finish her crown.
“Because my mom can’t run it anymore, it is all on me now,” she said. “I will be back. I can remember when I was younger and trying to weasel my way into a spot to see my mom when she was running. I feel like it is on the right track to get back to that point.”

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