Bellin Run Legend Profile: Paul Steckart
March 24, 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 Paul Steckart, whose running career started with a book and has spanned decades and generations — all of it underscoring the true joy of running. Here is Paul’s story, in his own words:
Funny how over a period of 45 years, things like running — that were at that time a daunting challenge — have now become second nature to me. We Bellin Run Legends, as we’ve become known through the years, know the path like every root and rock.
It was in 1976 in a casual conversation with a brother-in-law, who happens to be a doctor, recommended I read a book by James Cooper all about aerobic exercise. At the time he and a sister were living in Salt Lake City, Utah, and had just returned from a “jog” in the mountains when I was there for a visit. I could not comprehend how they could run so far and so long, not to mention what the heck aerobic exercise was!
I read the book and my eyes were opened. I was not in bad shape but I certainly was not in good shape from an aerobic standpoint. But now I had a menu in hand to follow to get started on my running journey, and the rest as they say is history.
As always recommended with any new exercise program, and following Dr. Cooper's strategy, I started slow. Baby steps. I remember first running two blocks then walking two, running two, walking two. I amazed myself that after a few months I was running a full mile! This stuff really worked! And, I later noticed all the subtle things I didn’t initially realize had happened in the process: I no longer had that breathless feeling while running and I just plain felt better, both physically and mentally. I was hooked, so I thought I might as well keep a fun part of my daily routine going.
Flash forward to me eyeballing a flyer in a local grocery store about a Bellin Heartwarming Run in spring of 1977. I thought at the time that would be fun to try if only I could run that far. I mean, if I really wanted to participate in this run I would really have to train for it!
So I did. But it wasn’t by myself. As they have been through all these wonderful, highlighted years of running, my family was always right there making sure I was up to the challenge, and they were always at the finish line. I will never forget that first year in that there were only about 800 who participated, but the impact of that event started a new wave of healthy for our entire community and beyond. To be a part of that is truly priceless for me, not only personally but to see how my “healthy habit” has driven my kids, and now their kids to not only be aware, but to practice everyday healthy habits. Needless to say I have a lot of runners, walkers and bikers in my family.
The Bellin Run 10K has kept me accountable. I have run many events and distances through the years, including full marathons. But The Bellin comes every year, and I always have to be ready for it. It’s not just a run now, it's an Event! Now the “running part” has shifted to the background for me as I focus on meeting with my fellow Legends and Elite Runners who have made great efforts to return every year. The Bellin has truly taught me the joy of running. It gets me out there for the fresh air, sound of the birds and smell of the early mornings. I no longer have to worry about time or distance, I just enjoy the journey at least two or three times a week.
This year I feel will truly be my favorite Bellin; after running the last two Virtual Bellins, I will savor the friendship and camaraderie that only the Bellin Run 10K brings. It’s become second nature for me, and it’s Legendary.
Enjoy your journey,