Metro-East News

Fanfare propels runners through hot and muggy Main Street Marathon

Inaugural Belleville Marathon runners

Chris Dedert was the first male finisher and Angela Blackham was the first female finisher in first-ever Belleville Marathon.
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Chris Dedert was the first male finisher and Angela Blackham was the first female finisher in first-ever Belleville Marathon.

Chris Dedert picked a hot and muggy Midwest day to run his first marathon.

But with a time 2 hour, 53 minutes, 50 seconds, the 23-year old St. Louis resident was the overall winner of the inaugural Belleville Main Street Marathon Saturday.

"I've done long runs up to 20 miles, but I haven't actually run any other races than 5K's," he said. "I thought I needed a bit of a change of pace."

More than 200 runners registered for Saturday's marathon, which was certified by USA Track and Field as a Boston Marathon qualifier in July. Runners are categorized into 12 age division per gender. Each division has its own qualifying time.

Dedert's finish beat the minimum qualifying time for Boston by more than 20 minutes, but that doesn’t mean he’ll automatically has a place in the pack.

I would have settled for 100 runners. When we got there, I thought 150 would be tremendous. Then they teased me because I said we'll never get to 200. Well, we got there, too.

Mike Toolen, Belleville Main Street Marathon co-chairman

Last spring, 4,562 runners who met the base qualifying standard for the Boston Marathon were nudged out of the limited field by those who had better times. Registration for the annual Boston race already began Sept. 12.

”If I get bumped, I’ll try for 2017,” said Dedert, who ran track and cross country at Central High School in Cape Girardeau, Mo. “The Boston Marathon would be a nice thing to cross off the bucket list.”

The Belleville Marathon started at 7 a.m., but temperatures already were pushing 80 degrees with humidity over 50 percent.

The course started at 1st Street downtown and proceed west on what some claim to be the longest street called "Main" in the country. Other portions included the Richland Creek Greenway Trail and MetroLink Bike Trail.

The course started at 1st Street downtown and proceed west on what some claim to be the longest street called "Main" in the country. Other portions included the Richland Creek Greenway Trail and MetroLink Bike Trail.

More than 500 volunteers paved the way, either manning water stations are patrolling the route on bicycles to keep tabs on the runners' well being. Residents of the Signal Hill neighborhood held a block party to encourage runners through the sticky heat.

The fanfare made a difference Dedert said he didn’t expect.

"There are some hills, but the hardest part, especially with this humidity, was the bike trail," said Dedert, a lab technologist for the American Red Cross. "On those portions of the course, it was nothing but the heat and humidity bearing down on you with no tree cover.

"I have to give a shout out to the guy on the bike who was pacing with us — that dude was a lifesaver for me. Just to have somebody there gutting it out with you, even though they aren't actually running it, really made a difference."

Jon Yoch, 28, a 2007 graduate of O’Fallon High School and current resident of Collinsville, placed second in the men’s group with a Boston-qualifying time of 3:03.53. It was his 29th marathon, including two previous trips to Boston.

”It was really hot, but it's hard to put on a marathon in September. It was really tough around (Southwestern Illinois College) because we were totally in the sun,” said Yoch, a math teacher at Litchfield High School. “There were so many people out, Signal Hill was awesome. In fact, the crowd support was better than the St. Louis Marathon. I can't tell you how impressed I was by the support."

I've done long runs up to 20 miles, but I haven't actually run any other races than 5Ks. I thought I needed a bit of a change of pace.

Chris Dedert, Belleville Main Street Marathon winner

Korey Chapman, a 37-year-old Belleville resident, has competed in more than 30 marathons, including Boston once. He rode his home field advantage to a third place finish Saturday.

"It's great to be able to race on the course that you train on,” he said.

The first woman finisher was Alton resident Angela Blackman, 26. She has completed in several triathlons — which includes swimming, cycling and running — but Saturday’s marathon was her first.

"I think I'll stick to triathlons," she said.

Mike Toolen, co-chairman of the event, said the field far eclipsed an early goal of 100 runners. He expects next years field to more than double the more than 200 that registered for the inaugural event.

Future marathons may include 13.1 mile and 5K options, he said, but no plans are firm. Next year’s race will be held Sept. 30.

“The support we got from sponsors, the city, the volunteers, has been just tremendous,” Toolen said. “I would have settled for 100 runners. When we got there, I thought 150 would be tremendous. Then they teased me because I said we'll never get to 200. Well, we got there, too."

Todd Eschman: 618-239-2540, @tceschman

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