Weather Forecast


Walters completes second leg of Kinship Partners Challenge

1 / 2
2 / 2

On a chilly Twin Cities morning, Gary Walters said he thought about quitting during the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

And if he had been running for himself, already behind his desired finish time, he said he might have. But completing the effort was about something else. Walters said he made a promise to Kinship Partners for this challenge and — blisters aside — was going to make it to the finish line.

And he did.

He beat his previous 2010 marathon participation by more than a half hour and finished in time to qualify as a marathoner. Walters reached the finish line in 5 hours and 59 minutes. The biggest scare during the event came when he mistook flashing lights behind him for the scoop truck, which picks up stragglers who won’t be able to finish in official time.

“Terror went through my half-cramped body,” Walters said.

It wasn’t the scoop truck.

Walters said he kept to a pace less than 11 minutes per mile through the 14-mile mark and knew he’d be able to finish, perhaps not as fast as he’d like, but within the official time allowed.

Completing the marathon was the second leg of Walters’ trifecta for this year’s Kinship Partners Challenge. In September, Gary Walters and his daughter Jessica, 17, rode 15 hours covering 200 miles from Baxter to Bemidji and back in a single day, starting before the sun rose and after it set.

This is the 10th year Walters set a challenge to benefit Kinship Partners, which matches adult mentors with children.

The third leg of his challenge this year is to reach a healthy weight by next June. At 258 pounds now, Walters would like to lose 10 pounds a month to reach his goal weight of 170 pounds or less. He’s not where he wants to be but is making progress. When he announced his trifecta challenge this spring, he weighed 272. He plans to continue to chronicle his weight loss effort via his Walters Wacky Adventures Facebook page and through his blog. Running from now on will be for exercise not marathon training.

Walters said he was more nervous about this marathon than his first one, perhaps because he knew what to expect.

Walters’ other challenges included walking, biking or in-line skating across the country and swimming across Mille Lacs Lake. His children accompanied him during many of the long-distance challenges walking, skating or biking cross country.

Swimming isn’t something he plans to do again. But he might try the marathon once more in a few years. This year, he said biking the 200 miles on a day that didn’t seem as though it would end was harder than the marathon.

Not so, said Jessica Walters.

“By all the things I’ve done for Kinship,” Jessica Walters said, who walked across the state and biked across the country with her father and brother Jackson last year, “this was by far the hardest.”

Jessica Walters completed her first marathon in 5 hours and 12 minutes.

Gary Walters said when he saw his pace halfway along, he knew there’d be no reason he wouldn’t be able to finish.

He ran most of the race near a Marine in full combat gear with a 60-pound pack.

“It was cool watching people jump up when he came by,” Walters said. “That was the best part of the whole day. It was spectacular.”

While the last six miles were painful, Walters’ message is that anyone can do something they set their minds to do and Kinship Partners provides him with the inspiration to complete the challenges. If that inspires others to give money or become a mentor, it’s even better, Walters said. For more about Kinship Partners, go to

“People have to realize everything is doable,” he said. You just have to say to yourself ‘why not’ and then ‘quitting is not an option.’”

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
(218) 855-5852