Bellin Run Legend Profile: Gene DeJardin
March 28, 2022
As part of our push to gather participation stats for our new Bellin Run Faithful recognition program, we are highlighting our longest-running participants — our Bellin Run Legends! Legends are the 20 individuals who have participated in every single Bellin Run since the event’s inception in 1977 — that’s 45 years and counting. We will continue to share the profiles and memories of our Legends on our Bellin Run blog and via social media. Next on our list is Gene DeJardin!
Many of us make sure to rest our legs leading up to a race, but that’s not the case for Legend Gene DeJardin, whose to-do list included more than the Bellin 10K on race day in 1978. Read on as Gene shares his favorite Bellin Run memory and more…
What is your favorite Bellin Run memory?
My favorite memory was 1978 when the race was held on a Wednesday evening to accommodate (elite runner) Bill Rodgers’ schedule. That was quite a novelty then. I remember starting my day early in order to get all my farm chores done, and I ended up making it to the race in the nick of time. It was a cool afternoon for mid-June with a drizzle perfect for a fast race, and it proved to be just that for me, as I set a personal record.
What was your toughest year?
The toughest had to be the year the race started at noon. With high temperatures and humidity, it was not the time to go all out, but of course, I did and paid the price. After blazing through the first half in record time, the second half turned into a death march with the wind at our backs and the sun beating down, but I persevered and made it to the finish. There were quite a few who weren't so lucky, lying along the curb in the last miles.
How has your participation in the Bellin Run positively affected your health?
The Bellin Run has inspired me to train through all types of weather that Wisconsin can throw at us year after year. So when it's raining or cold or getting dark and you see someone running down a country road, it might be me training for one more Bellin Run.
Is there anyone you would like to thank who inspired and supported you on your journey?
I have to include my wife and my two kids for supporting me every step of the way, no pun intended. They are and will always be my biggest fans.