VINCENT - When Ekrem Eksi played competitive soccer in his younger days, running was second nature to him on the pitch.
He ran with a purpose, and the distance was relatively equivalent to a "half marathon." Or, at least, it probably felt like it.
In soccer of course, you can't be effective unless you have stamina and the ability to be in constant motion. Having foot skills and other soccer traits also helps.
While Eksi no longer plays the game, he does coach it, and has for several years now at Warren High School. His teams are always in excellent shape - and competitive.
Last season, Eksi was instrumental in helping guide the Lady Warriors to the program's first Southeastern Ohio Athletic League championship. During his time at the soccer helm at Warren, he has also led the boys. In fact, there have been some seasons where he's coached both the boys and girls teams.
Now, while Eksi no longer competes himself, he looks very fit and like he still could. And, probably part of the reason for that is that he has become a long-distance runner.
On Aug. 17, Eksi and his wife Susan are scheduled to run in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon in Parkersburg. This won't be their first time, either, in the 13.1-mile event.
"My wife got me started running long distances, and I've run it (Half Marathon) a couple of times before," Eksi said. "I used to run all the time in soccer, and used to think running long distances on the road was boring and not much fun. But not anymore."
Susan Eksi, who has actually walked the 13.1-mile distance course in Parkersburg on a couple of occasions in the past, also enjoys lacing up her running shoes.
"We got started late, just a few years ago," she said. "I'm not really a good runner, because I'm slow - but I am dedicated. Running is fun, and I enjoy it."
So much fun that she and her friend Stacy Ida, who will also be running in the Parkersburg Half Marathon, are planning to fly to southern California at the end of August to run in the Sept. 1 Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim.
"The Parkersburg Half Marathon is a difficult course, so we've been training quite a bit for it," Susan Eksi said. "We even run with the the group at City Park one day a week."
Also running with the Eksis and Ida in the Half will be Cathy Jankauskas, the Warren girls' soccer assistant coach.
Ekrem Eksi's training was interrupted when he visited his native land of Turkey for about three weeks. But now, he's back home.
"It's not easy running that course," he said. "In fact, it's tough.
"I've finished it in a couple of hours. But, you know, that's really the goal - just finish it."