Robin Benson

Greetings from the back of the pack. Where perserverance and determination are the main components of just getting to the finish line and hopefully getting a PR. Where usually there is no shiny hardware items waiting for you other than the satisfaction that you did something good for yourself and sometimes for others depending on the race charities. This running club allows all types of fitness levels and we all benefit from the journey each race gives us. That is why, I am so honored, as a walker that occasionally jogs, that I am accepted by such a strong running community. I look forward to each race and seeing the familiar faces and being part of the Striders. It takes a lot of courage, to be a plus size woman who finishes last, to keep coming back race after race and year after year. I truly cannot express my gratitude to all of you who support me and make me feel like I belong among you runners.

I was a runner in high school lettering three times each in both Track and Cross Country at Merrillville HS 1982-1985. I, believe it or not, was the second best runner for our Cross Country team. My Senior year I was sidelined frequently by injuries and did not pursue running after high school. When I returned to the area after college (Ball State University 1985-1989), I became a CPR instructor for the Red Cross. They sent me a race application for the Run Walk for Life sponsored by the Red Cross at Wicker Park. So, I decided I would do it. It was there I met the infamous Shirley Kowalisyn at the Gold Cup Table. I have been doing races ever since.

Being part of the running club has given me confidence that I can do the distance. So, I joined Team in Training and did my first 26.2 mile marathon in Alaska. It was so very hard, but I did it and the feeling of empowerment upon finishing was so awesome that I have done 2 more marathons in Hawaii and Washington D.C. But I really have found my niche in the Half Marathon, which is only half the distance but twice the fun! In 2005 I did 10 half marathons in 7 different states. As a person who normally does not get a prize at the finish line, it is so wonderful to earn a medal at the end of a longer distance.

My friends and family are so amazed that I actually do the local 5ks in addition to the both full & half marathons. They know how much the Striders are part of my life style and how I love and enjoy it so much. That back in 2001 several of them nominated me to be a 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Torchbearer. Out of the 210,000 nominations received by the US Olympic Committee, only 11,000 torchbearers where chosen in 46 states. I was selected and given the awesome honor to carry the Olympic Flame in the torch relay. I trained to run my distance, I wanted to be able to say I ran the torch, not walked the torch. It was the greatest day of my life! It is such a joy to know that the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me was because of running. On that day I ran with such honor and every wonderful emotion I could possibly experience. Since I was given this wonderful honor, I felt the need to share it with as many as I could. So after I ran the torch, I took the opportunity to inspire children by going to many grade schools in my uniform with my torch and spoke to the children about running.

I am very honored to serve on the Board of the Striders since 2003. 2003-2007 As the Gold Cup Banquet Chair, I enjoyed heading the committee and took pride in helping to select the series award, because like almost half of the Striders in the GC series this might be the only piece of hardware received for the whole year. 2005-2006 as Lake County Member at Large and 2007-2012 as Vice President. As Vice President I have enjoyed working closely with Michele and all the committees. I am really inspired by our growing club. It has been fun meeting new people and making many new friends. I am still learning names and faces. It helps so much when everyone is wearing their Stiderwear. As a back of the packer, I get the opportunity to see all of the front packers pass me on a out-and-back course. I will gladly cheer you on as you lap me and thank you to all that return the encouragement. Hey, on those hot days, please save me a water, they are usually all gone by the time I get there. Keep running or walking and have fun!

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