Just married, gotta run: Couple's ceremony is followed by one-mile run

News-DemocratJune 22, 2014 

Dewey Barsaloux and Susan Ivy met through the Belleville Running Club and became running partners before they started dating.

It just made sense for the Freeburg couple to follow a running theme for their wedding.

"That's how we met, that's how we fell in love, and that's how we've stayed together," said Susan, 43. "We have a common interest, and all of our friends are runners.

"I thought (the theme) would be fun and casual. It represents us. We're trying to keep a healthy lifestyle, and running helped me lose 50 pounds."

Wedding plans kicked off this spring, when friends and family received entry forms instead of invitations to "Dewey and Susan's Marathon of Life."

Guests showed up at Freeburg Recreational Park on June 7 in shorts, T-shirts, leggings, sports bras, running shoes and ball caps. They knew the 8 a.m. ceremony would be followed by a 1-mile run on the park trail.

Dewey and Susan's neighbor, Tracy Lickenbrock, and her fiance, Jack Gerber, aren't runners, but they dressed down to fit in with the crowd.

"I had a hard time not dressing up," Tracy said. "But (Jack) was happy. He thought it was the best thing in the world."

Susan wore a small veil tucked into her updo and a hot-pink T-shirt with the word "Bride" on it. Dewey's T-shirt mimicked a tuxedo.

Nearly 100 people gathered under a tree for the short ceremony, conducted by running club member Jason "Mario" Maher, 39, of Belleville, who got ordained as a minister on the Internet.

"Marriage is a lot like a marathon," he said. "You have your flat roads and your steep hills, times when you're feeling fast and confident and times when you want to give up.

"That's when you suck it up and get your Hammer Gel (energy booster) out, drink your water and push on."

After being pronounced man and wife, the newlyweds started the "race" by running through an aisle of cheering fans. Dewey wore a belt with strings pulling tin cans.

Non-runners headed to Pavilion No. 3, where paper wedding bells hung from rafters and plastic tablecloths covered picnic tables.

Hunter Ivy, Susan's 15-year-old son, kept country music playing on a stereo. He was Dewey's best man.

"I thought (the running theme) was a little weird," he said. "But it made my mom happy, so I went with it."

Dewey's daughter, Brandi Barsaloux, 29, of St. Louis, got a kick out of the non-traditional wedding. Her favorite part was seeing her dad running with tin cans.

Reception food consisted of bagels and cream cheese, fresh fruit, bottled water, orange juice and champagne to make mimosas.

"I think it's wonderful," said running club member Russ Burnett, 67, of Belleville. "It's casual and friendly, just like a race.

"They give you food and drink afterward, but they don't usually serve mimosas. It's usually water or recovery drinks or chocolate milk. Sometimes they give you beer."

Susan is office manager in a chiropractic office, and Dewey is a mechanic. They have four children from previous marriages, and Dewey, 56, has three grandchildren.

Susan joined the running club about five years ago to get in shape and meet people. Dewey offered to be her coach.

"He always took care of me," Susan said. "He would go ahead of me and kick the rocks out of the way so I wouldn't trip and fall, and he always ran on the outside so cars wouldn't get near me and hurt me."

Their friendship developed into romance after about 10 months. They dated four years.

Three other couples have married after meeting through the running club, which has about 100 active members. That includes President Toby Trapp, 32, and his wife, Megan.

"You meet a lot of different people who enjoy being outside and keeping fit and having a healthy lifestyle," he said. "And we do other activities beside running."

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