A true running man: Fritz, 80, hot to trot for horses in need

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Fritz Kundrun running the London Marathon to raise awareness for Brooke USA.
Fritz Kundrun running the London Marathon to raise awareness for Brooke USA. © London Marathon.

Fifteen years ago, Fritz Kundrun walked into his kitchen, turned to his wife Claudine and stated, “I’m going to train for a marathon.”

Hysterical laughing ensued.

“She was literally rolling on the floor laughing at me,” Fritz said. “I had never run in my life, but I was ready for a new challenge at 65 years old. I went out and I could not run half of a mile, but I didn’t give up.”

He continued, “I remember the first four miles that I ran, I was thrilled, but the notion that a marathon was 26.2 miles was unbearable. I kept on going, and then I went on the Internet and researched my next steps. I trained for six months, and [ran] the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. I have now run in 10 marathons in total.”

Now, at 80 years old, a marathon is nothing to take lightly, and his determination to run the London Marathon began with his passion for the Brooke and Brooke USA. It is his desire to help the 100 million horses, donkeys and mules that over 600 million of the poorest people in the world rely on, that kept him going.

Clad in a bright orange shirt with the Brooke logo, Fritz took off with the best of them on April 24, running one of the most arduous marathons of his life.

“Many years ago, there was a moment in business when something eluded me, I could not get to it. I confided in this very good friend of mine, and as I was sitting across from him at his desk, he gave me a figurine of a heron who is trying to swallow a frog, but the frog has his hands around the neck and is squeezing. The plaque underneath says, ‘Never give up.’ It became my mantra, and I still have that figurine as a reminder.”

He laughed, “I wanted to do London for a long time, and now I am 80 years old, and once in a while I say, ‘Why the hell are you doing this?’ but it is like the guy who first went up Mount Everest, he was asked why he did it, and he said, ‘Because it’s there.’ If you want something, you have to work for it.”

Before the London Marathon, Fritz was training diligently, until a month and a half out when his sciatica acted up, and he limped home from his four-mile run feeling frustrated and discouraged. Instead of taking no for an answer, he began aqua training in the pool every day, sometimes up to three hours a day, and weightlifting. He did not run until the day of the marathon.

“I was in pretty good shape, but not good enough shape to run the marathon. It was pure guts, and mind over matter,” Fritz explained. “I’ve never run a longer marathon that this!”

The Brooke representatives and fellow runners kept each other strong during the long trek, swapping stories and rooting one another on until they reached the finish line.

“We are so blessed to have such strong support from our donors and friends of Brooke USA,” Executive Director of Brooke USA, Emily Marquez-Dulin, said.

“Mr Kundrun is an inspiration for all of us, and we are proud to have someone who has so much passion for the animals. The Kundruns have been long-time supporters of the Brooke for nearly a decade. Thank you so much to both of them for always going the extra mile.”

Most recently, Fritz and his wife Claudine have agreed to serve as patrons of the newly established Brooke USA Dorothy Brooke Society, the organization’s supporter group for those who are committed to the Brooke’s mission through major financial contributions. The group will launch in September 2016.

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