Winner of the Packer 5k run Brandon Dworak, crosses the finnish line, July 28, 2012. File/Gannett Wisconsin Media
Brandon Dworak was only 11 years old when he participated in his first Bellin Run in 1999 at the suggestion of his mother, Colleen.
Fourteen years later, the event has become a marquee event for the now 25-year-old native of Denmark, who hasn’t skipped a day of training since Dec. 23 in preparation for Saturday’s 37th running of the annual 10,000-meter event.
A collegiate runner at UW-Stevens Point, Dworak graduated this past month from Boise State University with his master’s degree in criminal justice where he also served as a volunteer assistant coach in cross-country and track and field for the past two years.
After packing up his things and hitting the road on Thursday, Dworak began the 26-hour drive back to the area, excited for the possibilities of competing in another Bellin Run.
“It’s definitely the local race that everybody talks about,” said Dworak while traveling through Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“Every year, there’s a countless number of people who ask me if I’m doing it. Everybody is always checking the paper. I’m getting phone calls and text messages about it. That one is always circled on the calendar. I definitely want to do my best there.”
A veteran of more than 10 Bellin Runs, Dworak established his best performance at last year’s event when he set new personal-bests with a sixth-place finish in 31 minutes, 4 seconds despite running in less than ideal conditions.
Along with Seymour’s Tyler Sigl, Dworak has been one of the area’s most consistent top-finishers. He’s placed in the top 20 in each of the last four Bellin Runs he’s competed in, cracking the top 10 for the first time in 2011 with a time of 31:41.
Leading up to Saturday’s race, Dworak has lodged more than 100 miles in 13 consecutive weeks, topping out at 120. During that stretch, Dworak has taken part in only one event: the 2013 Eugene (Ore.) Half-Marathon in April where he finished second in the men’s open in 1:06.50.
Although Dworak felt last year’s hot and windy conditions at the Bellin tampered with what could have been an even faster finish, the current forecast for Saturday morning figures to make for an ideal race with temperatures in the low-to-mid 50s.
If everything goes according to plan, Dworak hopes to take home another top finish in record-breaking time before competing in the U.S. Half-Marathon championships in Duluth in two weeks.
“I don’t know if I can throw down something specific I’m looking for as far as time goes, but I should be faster than last year not only because of the weather, but because I have another year of training under my belt,” Dworak said. “Knowing some other guys I know are elite runners, it looks like we’re going to have a pretty elite field again. I’m definitely looking for somewhere around that top-five, top-10 again.”
Two-time defending champion Allan Kiprono is back to attempt a three-peat in the men’s race, which has only been accomplished three times. The native of Iten, Kenya, dominated last year’s race with a time of 29:04 as the only individual in the field to finish in less than 30 minutes.
The defending women’s champion, Risper Gesabwa, will also be back to defend the title she captured last year after dethroning Julliah Tinega, who was the women’s two-time defending titlist.
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