Cleveland 10 Miler – Runners on Edge

Runners on Edge is a 1-on-1 shakeout run & chat at Edgewater Beach, leading up to the 20th anniversary of the Cleveland 10-Miler.

Today, we have two of the five total 19-time finishers of the 10-Miler, who are also sisters, Barb (Barbie) Wolansky, and Judy Ditzel.

Can you both share a brief background about yourselves?

Judy – Well, I’m from the west side (Fairview Park), have 2 children, and have been blessed with 6 grandkids I began running in my early 20s.

Barb – My story is similar to Judy’s, began running consistently in my 20’s. I have 5 kids and 5 grandkids who all keep me on my toes. My husband, Nick, was the one who got me into running when we first started.

I remember my first run with Nick was the Cleveland 10K and I kept saying “I can’t do this”, and he would respond each time with “Yes, you can!” So, he was the staple to the start of my running, and then I kept it up with Barbie, and we never really stopped from there. 

Do you recall what it was like when you started running?

Barb – We started the same way with the mentality of “this sucks, let’s just get it done”. Over the years, we developed a deeper appreciation for running, but kept the same mindset of “just get it in”. Knowing running is important for our mental and physical health, we just keep with it. 

Judy – And it just felt so good at the end, when you get done. And even before the end, you get to a point where you know you can complete the distance and feel like “ok I can do this” and get a pace and keep on going.

Barb – And I think even the frustrations and everyday challenges of being a mom helped us get out the door. 

Judy – You’re right – we’d have to plan it all out with the kids’ schedules too, but everyone knew running was necessary for us to keep a sane family dynamic. 

What advice would you give to any first-time Cleveland 10 Milers?

Judy – The weather plays a role! One year you’ll be in a sports bra/shorts, next is freezing rain. Just prepare yourself and adjust to the conditions.

Barb – Last year, it was freezing! It was a torrential downpour, but we had someone waiting for us with hot coffee and I’ll tell you what, having someone there at the finish line makes all the difference! 

Judy – And no matter what, just take it as it comes! You can walk through the water stops, listen to your body, and just try and enjoy the experience. 

Is there anything you feel has contributed to you being able to participate in distance races without stopping all these years?

Judy – Once I’m done running I just feel so much better. If I’m in a bad mood, if I get outside for a run (or walk), my attitude changes completely. More than anything else, running gives me so much, especially outdoors. 

Barb – I agree, it’s a mental health game and we prioritize running for that reason. Our kids growing up would even know how important running was for both of us. We had to run early in the morning before our family vacations to keep that positive mindset for the rest of the day. 

Judy – And I don’t feel like we are anything special when we call ourselves runners, we just get out and do what makes us happy and I think anyone can benefit from that.

Thank you, Barb & Judy – we look forward to watching you both complete your 200th Mile at the 20th anniversary of the Cleveland 10 Miler!