Boston Marathon ironman Ben Beach considers extending streak
Ben Beach lived a bit of everything while competing in a record 53 consecutive Boston Marathons.
BOSTON (AP) – Ben Beach has lived a bit of everything while competing in a record-breaking 53 consecutive Boston Marathons.
He overcame minor obstacles, like the unpredictable spring weather in New England. He has experienced personal challenges, such as dealing with his diagnosis of dystonia in 2002, a movement disorder that causes involuntary and uncontrollable muscle contractions and cramps.
He also had his mind tested, having always been on the course in the 2013 bombing and then having to plot his own course near his suburban home in Maryland for the virtual edition of the Run of the Year. last year after the in-person event was canceled for the first time since 1897.
The 72-year-old Beach is still going strong as he prepares to compete in the first fall edition in racing history.
“I know there are some imponderables this time around. So that’s a bit of an uncertainty I guess, ”Beach said.
The current Ironman of the famous race, Beach is one of 104 people to make at least 25 consecutive trips on the 26.2 mile course from the start line in Hopkinton to the finish in downtown Boston. Only 11 people have active streaks of at least 40.
Keeping those footage alive isn’t as easy as it used to be.
As of the 2017 edition of the race, only participants who have completed the course before the official six o’clock cut-off time qualify for the continuation of their streaks to be recognized by the Boston Athletic Association.
Beach finished in just under six hours each year from 2012 to 2018. He then crossed the line in 6:05:35 in 2019. But because riders have six hours from when the last official starter of the last wave crosses the starting line, there are about half an hour over six hours to pass under the threshold.
He finished in 5:24 running practically last year. His class began in Maryland, where he first met his wife, Carol, on a run, then meandered to Rock Creek Park in Washington, Virginia and back to the capital.
Beach is hoping a fall event can help him stay past the six-hour barrier. He has run fall marathons before and prefers to train July through October rather than the colder months before the normal April start for the Boston run.
“And another factor will be the leaves,” he said. “There may be more shade on the course on Monday than there is normally.”
Every little gesture counts for a runner far removed from the 18-year-old college student who first participated in the marathon in 1968.
“I think it will be interesting to perform it in October up there. So I’m a little curious, ”he said.
Beach acknowledges that he is starting to feel his age more and more with each passing year. But he tries not to let things like having a little more trouble hearing these days deter him from making his annual pilgrimages to Boston.
He usually dines the day before the race with around 40 family and friends. Pandemic precautions have reduced this group to just six. His cheering section in person on Monday will be his son, Carter.
The beach will have other motivations, however.
While he’s already set the standard for the most consecutive Boston Marathons, he’s a striking distance from John A. Kelley’s mark of 58 runs in seven decades.
Beach would be 76 if he equaled Kelley and could break the record at 77 in 2026.
It’s nothing else, he said, it’s a carrot to hunt.
“I am more and more aware of the importance of these numbers. And they’re still there, ”Beach said. “You could look and say, ‘Well, damn it, Ben’s pretty close. And yes, it is. But boy, each is a challenge and probably more each year as I get older. So still working on it.
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