Keflezighi, Gesabwa are 2016 Bellin Run Champs
Meb wins en route to Rio, Risper sets victory record as 16,944 Register for Event
U.S. running icon and perennial crowd favorite Meb Keflezighi won the 40th annual Bellin Run in 30:07 today as his preparations continue for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
After placing third in the last two Bellin Runs, Keflezighi bested runner-up Jeremy Drenckhahn by nearly a minute, with the Colorado man finishing the 6.2-mile course in 31:05 on a hot and humid race morning. Known in the running world simply as “Meb,” Keflezighi is the only American male to have won the Boston Marathon, New York City Marathon and an Olympic medal (a silver at the 2004 games). At age 41, he’ll be the oldest American man ever to run the Olympic marathon when he competes in Rio in August.
On the women’s side, Risper Gesabwa set a new event record, winning an incredible fifth consecutive Bellin Run in 34:20 as newcomer Kaitlin Gregg Goodman of Rhode Island finished second in 34:35. Gesabwa, of Kenya, also set a new record by winning her fourth consecutive Bellin Run last year. Kim Merritt and Joan Samuelson each won four Bellin championships, but did so in non-consecutive years.
The Bellin Run registered 16,944 participants in its milestone 40th year, up from 16,539 in 2015. The weather was hot and humid, with a temperature of 76 degrees at the 8 a.m. start.
Because of the forecast heat, race officials took a number of extra precautions, including having more water on hand, adding ice to water stations and additional misting stations to the course, and staffing on-course air conditioned cooling buses with more medical personnel. Upwards of 100 medical volunteers assisted at the medical tent and along the course. Officials also encouraged participants to take responsibility for their own safety, and asked course neighbors to bring out hoses and sprinklers to cool runners and walkers. A great number did so, further aiding participants in their efforts to stay cool.
In addition, organizers implemented an option for participants to defer their event entry to 2017 to avoid running or walking in the heat. More than 600 individuals chose the deferment option.
“We are thrilled to have offered the deferment option, for the safety and enjoyment of all our participants,” said Bellin Run Executive Director Randy Van Straten. “Above all, we want people to be safe, and we commend those who made the personal choice that this year’s weather conditions weren’t for them. We look forward to welcoming them back next year — hopefully with a cooler race-day forecast.”
Bellin Run medical personnel reported no major incidents during the event. There were a total of 97 reported medical events — some multiple contacts with the same individual — and 43 minor assists (such as providing Band-Aids for cuts and scrapes). There were no transports to area hospitals.
“We had a good number of people utilize our cooling buses, and many of those individuals decided not to finish the event,” said Bellin Run Medical Coordinator Roland Schmidt. “These participants made the smart personal choice to put their health first — and because they did, our numbers were about in line with what we would normally see on race day.”
Participants enjoyed a number of special touches for the event’s 40th anniversary. Organizers marked the occasion by upgrading participant race shirts from cotton to a technical fabric, increasing entertainment by having six live bands on the course and awarding finisher medals. Participant photos are also free for the second-straight year and will be available for downloads in 3-5 days.
A number of invited elite athletes and local notables had strong showings Saturday. Results include:
Other male athletes invited by the Bellin Run had the following times:
• Benson Cheruiyot, Indiana: 31:41
• Luke Humphrey, Michigan: 32:14
• Oliver Hoffmann, Germany: 33:44
• Bill Rodgers, Massachusetts: 47:08
• Frank Shorter, Colorado (winner of the inaugural Bellin Run): 1:03:42
Other female athletes invited by the Bellin Run had the following times:
• Kaitlin Gregg Goodman, Arizona: 34:35
• Joan Samuelson, Maine: 40:18
• Uta Pippig, Colorado: 48:21
The overall course records did not fall. Joseph Kimani retains the men’s course record of 27:46, set in 1997, and Tegla Loroupe holds the women’s course record with a time of 31:48, set in 1999.
Romelo Harris of Green Bay set a new course record in the ages 8 and younger division, completing the course in 50:14.
Six of 10 of the men’s top finishers hail from Wisconsin. They are Brian Finnel of Forestville (31:46; 4th overall); Tyler Sigl of Seymour (32:08; 5th overall); Brandon Dworak of Denmark (32:44; 7th overall); David Luy of Brookfield (32:44; 8th overall); Armando Torres of Green Bay (33:18; 9th overall) and Mitchell Bilitz (33:21; 10th overall). Wisconsin women had a strong showing as well, capturing three of the top 10 spots. Those individuals are Nora Keller of Oshkosh (39:56; 7th overall); Sara Rohde of De Pere (40:06; 8th overall); and Terra Kositzke of Green Bay (41:02; 10th overall).
Complete Bellin Run results are available through the Bellin Run website at www.bellinrun.com.