Bellin Run Legend Profile: John Cumicek
March 10, 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 Seymour native John Cumicek!
John Cumicek’s Bellin Run story is a special one and includes a race to the finish with Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter. Read on to find out who reaches the finish line first…
What are some of the most memorable races to you?
• In 1977, the first year of the Bellin Run, five of us from the Seymour area sat on a blanket in Baird Park after running and chatted about the great event
• In 1986, the legends received a tracksuit (red, white and blue) that my daughter still has to this day
• Every year I get bib number 51. I have kept my bibs for the last 15 years, and I keep track of the times of all the Bellin Run Legends
• During the 40th anniversary event, Frank Shorter passed me just beyond the 3-mile marker; the rest of the race we went back and forth exchanging the lead. I ended up beating him by 30 seconds!
Most memorable year:
In March of 2013, I did a heart calcium test that showed some concerning results, and a few weeks later I had surgery to correct three blockages. My doctor was concerned about me participating in the 2013 Bellin Run, but I successfully completed the event and felt great. My doctor credits my overall good health to my quick recovery. I lost my beloved wife around that same time. Also in 2013, my daughter was in Boston at the finish line watching a friend finish the Boston Marathon, leaving the finish area just minutes before the bombs went off. It was a tough year.
What year was the toughest and why?
In 1998, a work crisis and some very pressing matters led to me becoming acting CEO of the bank where I worked. I still took the time to run the event, heading immediately back to work to address some very significant issues. This was a very stressful year.
What were some sacrifices you made to keep your streak going?
Starting in 2013, I was on the staff of the Badger Boys State event, so every year I had to go to Ripon on Thursday, come back to GB on Friday for the spaghetti dinner, run the event on Saturday, and then immediately head back to Ripon before noon.
Were there family or friends who inspired you to keep going and in what ways did they support you?
I did the event with my friend Ken Rottier for many years. My sons and some of my grandchildren have followed in his footsteps as a runner, keeping the legacy alive.
How did participating in the Bellin Run positively impact your overall health?
I started running my sophomore year at St. Norbert College during ROTC in combat boots, but the Bellin Run is what has kept me running all these years.