Elites, former champs highlight Bellin Run’s field

May 24, 2011

The crop of elite athletes participating in the 35th annual Bellin Run contains several past winners including Frank Shorter and Kim Merritt, the first-ever men’s and women’s race champions, respectively.

The elite field also marks the return of John Korir, one of only two five-time Bellin Run champs (the other five-time champ being Ed Eyestone). Korir will compete for an unprecedented sixth victory during the 8 a.m. Saturday, June 11 event.

The field of former champs will return in honor of the Bellin Run’s 35th anniversary, said executive race director Randy Van Straten.

“We’re celebrating 35 years of encouraging physical fitness and overall wellness in Northeast Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula,” Van Straten said. “Our former champions – many of them are still running and competing at high levels – are more than happy to help us observe the 35-year milestone while also illustrating the value of incorporating physical activity into our lifestyles.”

Past Bellin Run champions confirmed for the June 11 race include:
•    Kim Merritt: First Bellin Run female champion, 1977
•    Jelliah Tinega: Female champion, 2010
•    Elva Dryer: Female champion, 2005, 2004
•    Uta Pippig: Female champion, 1995
•    Lisa Rainsberger: Female champion, 1990, 1989, 1987
•    Joan Samuelson: Female champion, 1992, 1991, 1988, 1986
•    Frank Shorter: First Bellin Run male champion, 1977
•    John Korir: Male champion, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
•    Max Harn: Male champion, 1989
•    Dan Held: Male champion, 1996
•    Bill Rodgers: Male champion, 1978

The remaining elite athletes are up-and-coming runners, all of whom are making waves on the national running circuit:
•    Jenny Scherer: Three-time participant; St. Norbert College graduate
•    Sarah Reinertsen: First time Bellin Run elite; former “Amazing Race” contestant
•    Tim Young: First time Bellin Run elite
•    Zachary Hine: First time Bellin Run elite
•    Allan Kiprono: First time Bellin Run elite
•    Lani Rutto Kiplagat: First time Bellin Run elite

Also participating will be former elite athlete Jenny Crain. She won the Bellin Run women’s race in 1996. In 2007, her rising career was cut short when she was hit by a vehicle while on a training run. Today, she is largely confined to a wheelchair.

Crain will participate in the Bellin Run assisted by long-time friend and former Bellin champion, Elva Dryer, as part of myTeam Triumph. The organization helps people with disabilities participate in road race events with the assistance of volunteers. Dryer will push Crain through the race course in a customized stroller.

Although stocked with a large filed of elite athletes, the Bellin Run is an all-inclusive event, welcoming of all performance levels, Van Straten said.

“Ultimately, it’s not about how fast you are; it’s about the training and preparation prior to the run. It’s about taking a more active role in your own personal fitness and overall health,” he said. “We hope to inspire many of our registrants to participate in the race and then stay on a path to healthier living.”

The 35th annual Bellin Run will take place at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 11. Last year’s event drew 18,398 registrants, a record for the sixth consecutive year.

Register for the Bellin Run online at www.bellinrun.com.

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