Bellin Run Legend Profile: John DesJardins

March 15, 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 retired judge John DesJardins!

John DesJardins has gone to great lengths to keep his Legends streak alive, even sweet-talking a judge for a day off during a high-profile trial when he was a prosecutor in the late 1980s. We’d say his commitment is second-to-none, but we invite you to (ahem) judge for yourself …

What was your favorite memory or year?
My favorite memory was the first race on a rainy Wednesday night. I was excited to have a local race and I enjoyed saying hi to Frank Shorter, who was a very big star at the time

What year was toughest and why?
One of the first years the race was held on a Sunday afternoon. It was a hot day, and when we took the turn down near Green Isle – felt as hot as working at Green Bay Drop Forge near the furnaces! After that the event got moved to earlier in the day.

What were some sacrifices you made to keep your streak going?
• In 1980 I was working in Los Angeles for my uncle, planning to return in time for the race. I had planned to return home via Mount St. Helen, which was smoking at the time, but decided to change my route. During that time, Mount St. Helen had its most significant blast.
• I was prosecutor in 1988 for the longest trial in the history of Wisconsin, which went on for 5.5 months — and they were holding court on Saturdays. I begged the judge to not hold court on that Saturday so I could keep his streak alive! Thankfully the judge agreed. It was a very high-profile trial that involved a lot of corruption threats. I had worked 200 consecutive days leading up to the Bellin Run.

Were there family or friends who inspired you to keep going, and in what ways did they support you?
My brother Jeff participated in the first several runs and then volunteered for most of the races, and he has encouraged me over the years. Jeff continues to be an integral part of the operations team.

How did participating in the Bellin Run positively impact your overall health?
Running kept my weight down over the years, and my focus on power walking the event has kept me active.

Posted in: Runner's Profiles  |  2 Comments


  • Congratulations John!

    John Cumicek    March 16, 2022 at 11:09 am

  • I remember that trial - I had just started working at the Clerk of Courts office; there were lots of long hours, days, etc.  I wasn’t a runner at the time, but can appreciate the dedication it would take to be “Bellin ready” while prosecuting this trial!  Congrats, John!

    Susan Earl    March 17, 2022 at 2:42 pm

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