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GREEN BAY — Organizers for the 34th annual Bellin Run say they aren’t actively encouraging growth, but having experienced five consecutive record registration years since 2004, they’re braced for a possible surge in registrant numbers this year.
As of Tuesday, May 4, registration totals for the 8 a.m. Saturday, June 12 Bellin Run were at 6,980 (with 2,539 first timers) compared to 4,424 during this same period last year. With those figures, organizers say the rapidly growing numbers of signups for the annual 10K (6.2-mile) run/walk through Green Bay and Allouez could approach record proportions – again.
Still, organizers say they are fully prepared to accommodate a sixth consecutive year of record registration numbers. The 2009 Bellin Run drew a record 16,746 registrants.
“Even though we’re not working to grow the Bellin Run right now, surpassing the final registration numbers we had last year would be a welcome achievement,” said executive race director Randy Van Straten. “But we aren’t necessarily fanning the flames to deliberately encourage any major growth.”
Organizers say changes instituted in 2008 have prepared them for growth.
“Our decision to create wave starts – they’re staggered starts of smaller groups instead of one huge start for all participants – was part of the effort to manage future growth,” Van Straten said. “We also moved our race-related events to Astor Park from Baird Park to accommodate larger crowds. We’re definitely well-prepared for another record registration year.”
The Bellin Run – started in as a one-time event in 1977 – is one of the largest mass participatory events in Northeast Wisconsin with about 93 percent of its participants coming from the area, race organizers say.
The record participation the event has drawn the last five years is somewhat indicative of the growing emphasis on health and fitness in Northeast Wisconsin communities, Bellin fitness experts say.
“There are numerous studies that highlight the health benefits of walking and running,” said Nate Vandervest, a strength and conditioning specialist at Bellin Health. “And as more and more people across Northeast Wisconsin search for ways to boost their overall health and fitness, walking, running and exercise in general is increasingly viewed as a great way to cut the chance of serious illness and disease.”
The Bellin Run, a 10K (6.2 mile) run/walk in Green Bay, Wis., is among the 10 largest 10K races in the nation with 16,746 registrants. Established in 1977, the Bellin Run features elite runners, a children’s run, Corporate Challenge, running expo, all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner and a number of other events and activities for runners and their families.
This year’s 34th annual Bellin Run is June 12. For more information, or to register, visit www.bellinrun.com.