The 2011 Bellin Run proved to be a race of sweet returns.
Jelliah Tinega returned to win a second straight women's title, in 32:34. Jenny Scherer returned to her home territory to race as a pro, and Elva Dryer and Jenny Crain returned to the race as champions. Dryer, the winner in 2004 and 2005, pushed Crain, her former rival, across the line in 43 minutes,
Scherer, the St. Norbert's College alum, finished seventh, but relished the opportunity to watch Dryer show how the running world has rallied to support Crain.
"The joy on each of their faces upon finishing was yet another reason I'm so proud and happy to be a part of this sport, Scherer said. "Such a great story--and both wonderful people!"
Jim Matthews, from the Green Bay Press Gazette, produced a compelling video on Crain, who remains fully engaged in the sport after suffering traumatic head injuries in 2007.
Tinega took the women's division in the 10K with a time of 32:34. Allie Woodward, an Oregon-bound runner from Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay was an impressive second, in 34:18. Benita Willis took third in 34:35.
In the men's race, Allan Kiprono, from Kenya, ran out front to take the win in 28:29, ahead of Lani Rutto Kiplagat, John Korir and a record 18,701 participants.
The Bellin reigns as the largest race in Wisconsin and one of the top 50 in the country.
After a tough day for herself, Scherer explained the appeal:
"Overall, though, it was an awesome atmosphere, as usual, and another record number of participants, which is just fantastic for the city of Green Bay. I met some amazing people while here as well--warmed up with Joan Benoit, talked extensively with Bill Rodgers, Uta Pippig, Frank Shorter, and Benita Willis, who are all huge inspirations to me.
"I'm so glad I was able to come back 'home' and participate in this great, well-organized event once again. The Bellin people treat the elites so well and I'm again, so thankful to have been a part of the race. Always great to be back in Green Bay, and hope to be back again as a pro for many years to come."