BELLEVILLE — A Lebanon man was the overall winner of the 12th annual St. Clair County Law Day Run, but everyone who participated could claim a victory over terrorists Saturday morning in Belleville.
Jackson Marwa, 42, crossed the finished line first with a time of 18:37.
Marwa said he's participated in every Law Day 5K Run/Walk since its inception. Saturday's win was the fourth time he's won.
Before the race started, Marwa and others at the starting line paused for a moment of silence to honor victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Marwa did not run at the Boston Marathon but he had friends who were there.
"This is something that brings people together and all the happiness was gone," Marwa said. "As a runner, I cried that day."
Marwa, who came to the United States from Tanzania in 1992, said he has been running since he was 9.
He hopes that running events continue to bring joy to people, especially the next generation. His 8-year-old daughter took part in the 1K Youth Fun Run.
Kristin Johnson, who finished the Boston Marathon moments before the first bomb exploded April 15, spoke briefly and then led the group of about 950 runners in a moment of silence.
Johnson, 41, of Belleville, said the joyous day in Boston turned into an event filled with terror and tragedy, but she hopes people do not associate those feelings with running and continue to run.
"Otherwise, those who are evil ... have us," Johnson said. "If they can prevent us from doing things we enjoy, then they have won."
Johnson did not run on Saturday but she plans to run the Chicago Marathon in October.
Angela Sabo, 41, of Carlyle, was the first woman to finish, with a time of 21:05.
It was Sabo's first time at the Law Day Run and running on cobblestones was a new experience for her.
"I followed the lead runner and just kicked off the last mile," she said.
Sabo said she had two teammates from the Michelob ULTRA Runners team who ran at the Boston Marathon and finished before the bombs went off.
Sabo said she and her friends feel the best thing they can do is to keep running, show up to events and encourage others. "It's important to remind runners and each other the spirit of running needs to go on."
Sabo said she runs hard during a race but still finds time to shout words of encouragement to younger or less experienced runners.
About 75 of Saturday's runners had trained for the past nine weeks with the Belleville Running Club's Couch-to-5K program, said trainer Dewey Barsaloux.
Barsaloux said the program enables starting runners to train with each other, so they're "not starting out with a bunch of jackrabbits."
Christina Sullivan, 41, of Belleville, said the Couch-to-5K trainers and participants are encouraging.
"They slow down to help you and they build you up," she said.
And, Sullivan said it helps that for the two training sessions leading up to the race, the group runs and walks the actual course.
The top finishers were: Marwa; Joseph Kraus, 15, of Belleville, 18:45; Byron McLaughlin, 19, of Belleville, 18:47; Korey Chapman, 34, of Belleville, 19:18; and Toby Trapp, 31, of Belleville, 19:26.
The top female masters' finisher was Rebecca Bradley, of Edwardsville, 21:15.
The top male masters' finisher was Mike Pitt, of Breese, 19:45.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.