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Pulaski-native biathlete highlights Olympians in 2024 Bellin Run

Posted at 7:54 PM, Jun 07, 2024

Deedra Irwin used to use skiing as a way to cross-train for running. Now, she uses running as a way to cross-train for skiing, as she competes worldwide in biathlon.

  • Irwin, a Pulaski native, will run the Bellin Run on Saturday, covering the 10K course for the first time since 2011
  • She finished 7th in the women's individual biathlon event in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing — the best-ever finish by an American
  • A former three-sport athlete at Michigan Technological University, Irwin now works with the Army National Guard in Vermont as she trains for biathlon competitions
  • Two Olympic Trials marathon qualifiers join Irwin in the women's race: 2018 Boston Marathon runner-up Sarah Sellers and defending Bellin Run champion Kathy VanDehy of Menasha
  • Olympic marathoner and reigning men's Bellin Run champion Jared Ward highlights the men's race, alongside Olympic Trials marathoner Jacob Heslington
  • You can watch the 48th Bellin Run on Saturday morning right here on

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

This year's Bellin Run women's field is stacked at the front, with a couple of Olympic Trials marathon qualifiers — including our reigning winner, Kathy VanDehy of Menasha — but we also have a true Olympian in our race tomorrow. Not a pro runner, but a woman who has represented Team USA at the highest level of her sport.

"The Bellin 10K was the first race I ever did that made me want to be a professional athlete," she said.

Deedra Irwin started her career as a runner — skiing was just a hobby.

"I had some teammates that were runners at Pulaski, that skied for Ashwaubenon, that were like, 'Come join us,'" Irwin said. "And they just started bringing me to practice."

But after doing cross-country skiing in college and then picking up biathlon at age 25, Irwin made it all the way to the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

"You dream about it when you're a kid, but then when it actually happens, it's just like, 'Wow, this is it,'" Irwin said. "I'm an Olympian."

She finished seventh — the best0ever finish by an American in the combined skiing-and-shooting sport.

Now she's on her way —

"Each year, I've just gotten a little bit faster and a little bit better at my shooting," Irwin said.

— to compete for a medal.

Irwin says she draws some parallels between the strength required for running and biathlon.

"If you don't like going into the pain cave, and you don't like working hard, and you don't like really pushing your body, you're never really going to be able to get all the way to the highest level," Irwin said.

She attributes that blue-collar attitude to northeast Wisconsin and hopes to inspire others to keep dreaming.

"Look beyond where we are, but also bring our work ethic with us, and bring it to the rest of the world," Irwin said.

Irwin is a former 10K school record holder up at Michigan Tech, but she says she hasn't run the Bellin 10K since 2011, so tomorrow she's just looking to have fun and maybe break that time that she ran in 2011.