Pennsylvania woman rips fast 40 miles for her 40th birthday

Some runners celebrate reaching a new age category by heading out for their new number in minutes or covering it in kilometres; Holly Benner of Macungie, Penn. took it to the next level, ripping a speedy 40-mile trail run to celebrate her becoming a quadragenarian. 

Benner covered 40 miles (64 kilometres) in just over five hours, averaging a pace of five minutes per kilometre.

Going in, Benner intended to cover 40 miles but had no particular time goal. “I just went with the flow,” she says. “I felt great at 20 kilometres and never looked back. It’s so cool to see what our bodies are capable of.”

Benner knew she wanted to spend her birthday doing something she loved, which is how running 40 birthday miles came into her mind. “It was so much fun—it’s cool to challenge yourself,” says Benner. “I didn’t do this to prove anything.”

Benner comes from an athletic background. She was the team captain of her NCAA collegiate swim team and went on to race triathlon at an elite level before taking up trail running in 2010. She has run ultra-trail races from 50K to eight hours, reaching the podium in her last two of three races.

In December, she hit her long-time goal of a sub-three-hour marathon at the 2022 California International Marathon, finishing in 2:53:55. Benner considers herself primarily a road marathoner, but intends to get more into ultra-trail racing eventually. “My immediate goal is sub-1:20 for the half and then attempt a sub-2:45 marathon in the fall,” she says.

“There’s a few 50K’s in Canada that I have my eye on,” she laughs.

When we asked Benner what she was most excited about in turning 40, like a true masters runner, she said, “the new age category.”

posted Saturday March 18th
by Running Magazine