Friday, Feb. 1, 2002
A local athlete who inspired many a Sudburian died Tuesday doing one of the things he loved best - running.
Kurt Gelbhaar collapsed at the Sudbury Arena. He was 78.
A funeral service will be held at 2 pm today (Friday) in the R. J. Barnard Chapel. Friends may call at the Jackson and Barnard Funeral Home after noon. Interment will be at the Civic Cemetery.
Gelbhaar's story is one of dedication to family, friends and sport.
He was born in Saxon, Germany in 1924. Gelbhaar married Ursula Kothe in 1949 and the couple moved to Sudbury.
He was a stope leader at Creighton Mine and retired from Inco in 1984 after 31 years service.
Gelbhaar also became quite a soccer star during the 1950s.
During an interview with Northern Life in 1999 Gelbhaar said when he stopped playing soccer he just had to do something else.
"I couldn't sit down and say, well, my career is over," he said at the time.
He took up track at an age when many men start to slow down and he competed in various international events over the past 20 years.
His daily regimen was something to be admired.
He told Northern Life he got up every morning at 6 am and went for a 10-kilometre run.
Gelbhaar was selected Northern Life Athlete of the Week on numerous occasions and his list of competition victories was near endless.
Among the highlights, a gold medal in 1999 at the World Championship Duathalon in Huntersville, North Carolina. That event involved a 10-kilometre run, followed by a 42-kilometre bicycle race and another five kilometres on foot.
He also won the gold in 1998 when the event was held in Germany.
1999 saw Gelbhaar compete in the prestigious 13th World Veterans Athletics Championship in Gateshead, England where he won a gold medal in the 1,500 metres and a silver in 10,000 metres cross country.
Gelbhaar competed in two other events at the international track and field event, finishing fourth in the 5000 metres and 800 metres.
Gelbhaar always had an encouraging word for people trying in their own way to improve their state of physical fitness.
His advice for out-of-shape couch potatoes was to start exercising but start slowly and every day do a little bit more.
"I always encourage people to do sport," said Gelbhaar in a 1999 interview.
"And I think people who want to start have a hard time...they get discouraged because they can't do it. So I give them this advice, you can't go out and do 10 miles. You do that right away and you'll be sore all over and you'll quit."