I attended an event last night hosted by a local Atlanta running shoe and accessory store, Big Peach Running Company. It was a lot of fun and featured the guest speaker, adventure racer Robyn Benincasa. Big Peach Running Company events are a great way for runners to come together to talk and learn more about running. What better place to talk running than at a Running Company store? Big Peach puts on a lot of great events which attract a variety of organizations from Get Fit Atlanta to Trail Blazers Adventure Racing. If you are a novice runner or fitness guru, there was information available for you. Not to mention the free food provided by Sweet Tomatos in Kennesaw! I probably should have just mentioned that at the beginning.
I was a real treat meeting Robyn Benincasa. Robyn is a EcoChallenge Adventure Race World Champion, Raid Gauloises Adventure Race World Champion, has finished in the top 5 in over 20 Expedition Adventure Races, is a 10 time Ironman finisher, and is a San Deigo firefighter on an all female crew. Obviously she has pushed herself to the limits both physically and mentally numerous times. Robyn was able to share with the group in attendance video clips of some of the amazing stories she has had in Adventure Racing. During her presentation I kept thinking of similar situations I had been in while in the Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Ranger School. I thought to myself, ‘I had to be in these stressful situations. Why would anyone volunteer to do such strenuous challenges?” To push and learn about yourself. To become mentally stronger.
This is why Robyn does a lot of corporate presentations, to motivate organizations, build leaders, and focus on teams. Sounds like the Army to me. Robyn was able to share some amazing stories like the local villager who was recruited to fill a spot on a team and compete in an Adventure Race without ever being in a canoe or even riding a bike! The team finished in 2nd! The local villager at the beginning of the race said, “I’m not sure if I can do these things, but I know we can as a team.” The strength of teamwork is universal. No matter who you are or where you live in the World, the team is always stronger than the individual. This is the main difference between pushing yourself to your limits while running versus Adventure Racing.
Another inspirational story and video she shared was when her team, in 1st with a 3 hour lead, reached the final stage of the race and could not find their support team who had their bikes. They found out that their support team was about day behind them. Robyn’s team was visibly distraught by this news. However, one team member didn’t lay down in exhaust and anguish, he set out to solve the problem. He was able to break the language barrier and arrange to purchase locals’ bikes to finish the race on. They even incurred other obstacles in the form of penalties from race officials for not using proper bicycles, although the ones there was using were far inferior to the official race bikes, and were able to overcome and finish the race. This was a true test of mental toughness and determination.
Robyn is sharing that mental toughness and determination she has gained from adventure racing to start Project Athena. The mission of Project Athena is to help women with breast cancer and other medical or traumatic setbacks live their athletic and adventurous dreams. Awareness for Project Athena is achieved through the ultra endurance endeavors of an experienced and high profile all-female adventure team who embody the spirit of Athena. It is a non-profit foundation that encourages women to not just survive–but go on to STRIVE after enduring life altering yet life affirming medical conditions. Robyn Beninecasa and Project Athena aim to keep the dream alive. Please click here and donate to help keep this dream alive.
In order to keep our dreams alive we all have to work together to accomplish our goals. Thank you Big Peach Running Company for organizing this great event and bringing a magnificent team of runners and experts together.