Our July Runner Spotlight is on Walter Porzel. When and why did Walter start running? “I have always been an outdoors person. Hiking, bicycling, and of course running. I ran my first marathon in 1979. It was the 4th Annual Marine Corps Marathon. It was so simple back then. I drove to the Pentagon’s South Parking Lot. Parked near the starting line. Ran the marathon and then drove home. No medals, just a T-shirt was given to all the participating runners. Maybe there were 2,000 athletes in the race. I still enjoy the local running community. I want to maintain a vigorous, active lifestyle so running races on weekend helps me toward that goal. I expect, God willing, to live to be a 100. I hope to able to compete to the day I die.”
He typically tries to run a race every weekend, especially during the warm months. He recently just visited Germany to see his daughter’s family. He ran the Duetsche Weinstraße (German Wine Street) Marathon where very runner was given a bottle of wine and a medal for participating. His biggest accomplishment was qualifying for 2017 Boston Marathon. He also ran the 2019 Victoria Falls Marathon in Zimbabwe. His youngest daughter was serving in Peace Corps in Botswana so he combined a trip to see Africa and run a marathon.
Outside of running, Walter is a retired civil servant and a lifetime resident of Falls Church, VA. He was president of an AFSCME Local when he worked for the Department of Agriculture.
Walter’s favorite race course is on the C&O Canal towpath. Bishop’ Events stages many of its races on the C&O Canal towpath. Walter has been hiking and running on the same towpath since the 1960’s. In 1954 Associate Justice William Douglas and the Appalachian Trail Club successfully lobbied to create the C&O Canal National Park. The Corp of Engineers had proposed using the existing towpath as a parkway and building several dams which would have inundated portions of the 140 miles of the existing towpaths. Walter always tell people what a real gem the towpath is for the residents of the DMV.
If Walter could run any race, it would be to travel to South America and Australia to run a marathon on each of those continents. He has run on three other continents. That would give him five of the World’s six continents on which he could claim to have run a marathon, since “Antarctica is probably not going to happen.”
Walter keeps coming back to our events because “I really like the idea that a portion of the event entrance fees goes to the sponsoring charity. I also appreciate that I can give more to the charity. I do not need another T-shirt, so I always defer an additional portion of my entrance fee to the sponsoring charity. Finishing the race is always best part of the race for me. At seventy-three I always seem to finish nearly in last place. But what difference does it make? I am still running, enjoying the adventure, weather and looking forward to the next race.”
Come join Walter at one of our next events!