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Endurance Records Fall at 2010 Footstock.
Indiana’s Marc Donahue shocks 4-time Footstock Champ, Pete Fleck to take national endurance crown.
Crandon, Wisconsin – There wasn’t much left in the tank, when Marc Donahue hauled himself out of the water after beating Pete Fleck on the final run at Footstock. Not surprising, considering the lanky amateur from Indiana had completed over 40 figure eights over two days to get there. And a record setting 5-1/4 figure eight run just 10 minutes earlier. That following a record setting 4-1/2 figure eight run against World Overall Barefoot Champion, Keith St Onge. A record that lasted only about 10 minutes.
As he stood on the ski platform in shock realizing he had just won his first Footstock Open Championship Title, he could only muster one word, “unbelievable. “
Those who witnessed Donahue’s weekend display at Footstock would say “unbelievable” hardly scratched the surface in describing his super human feat of endurance. No one in the history of Footstock had ever barefooted as long or as far as Marc Donahue. And they may never again.
Of course, the story of this soft spoken, small engine repairman from Indiana rising to Championship glory was only part of a memorable weekend, that also had many personal bests and several other records fall.
Saturday night’s Senior Division championship was almost a carbon copy of the Sunday showdown between Fleck and Donahue and just as exciting. In that final, the seemingly unexhaustible pair completed back to back 4-1/4 figure eights, after Donahue won round one to force a championship run-off. A feat no pairing has ever come close to accomplishing in the championship’s 21-year history. In the end, Fleck outlasted Donahue to take the National Senior Division Championship.
On Sunday, the winds that slowed so many barefooters a day earlier, completely disappeared. Setting up another record-setting day.
Tournament Coordinator, Gary Mueller, knew organizers were in for a long day, when the first run of Sunday morning in the semifinals of the Junior Division went a record 2-1/4 eights with first-timer Sam Landgraf beating Nick Ruchti. From there the eights just kept coming.
Perennial Top 10 footers like Jeremy Petrie, Luke Bruckner, Chris Van Zeeland, Josh Bruns, Joe Heilman and Bob Mahnke pounded out double and triple eights after eights. One of the biggest stories of the tournament however was the performance of Footstock veteran Dan Ehlers. A competitor since the late 80’s Dan had not cracked the Top 16 in 20 years. But on Sunday, Dan was a rock, consistently cranking out double and triple eights, taking out many of the country’s best figure-eighters before succumbing to eventual 3rd place finisher Keith St Onge. Ehlers finished in fourth place besting past champ Chris Van Zeeland who came in fourth.
In the woman’s Division, the competition was stiff as well. As Elaine Heller, Dawn Van Alstiel, Laura Lindeman and Katie Frank battled it out all day. But in the end, it was Heller, fresh off her World Overall Championship in Germany last week, showing why she is so good. Taking out Van Alstiel in the final.
The Junior Division saw up and comer Sam Landgraf take out Nick Ruchti and Jake Wiedemeyer in some of the longest runs in Junior Division history.
In all, 140 barefooters competed in the two-day Championship in Crandon, where over $6500 in prize money was doled out.