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Chelsea Benson qualified for the Olympic Trials in December when she turned in an impressive performance at the California International Marathon in Sacramento.
She clocked 2:42:27, which qualifies under the “B standard” set at 2:45:00.
“Obviously I was pretty excited,” Benson, 36 and a mother of 5-year-old twins, said. “I put in a lot of miles and missed out on some family stuff here and there, so I was excited to be able to convince my body to do something I set my mind to, it felt like my hard work paid off.”
She had set the goal after running the Philadelphia Marathon in a time of roughly two hours and 50 minutes. A friend of hers told her she could shave that time off with some hard work, and after consulting with a coach, she set a plan with the goal of qualifying for the Trials.
Benson is no stranger to success in the sport. In high school she qualified for the state meet in both cross country and outdoor track, and then qualified for the NCAA Division 3 National Meets in both sports while running at Allegheny College.
“I got into running because I wasn’t great at any other sports, to be honest,” Benson said. “I tried softball, soccer and basketball, and I was always okay but never really good. So, I found that I was pretty good at running.”
With that in mind, Benson joined the Kane High cross country and outdoor track teams, and participated in a club indoor track team during the winter.
“That allowed me to gain a lot of confidence, and I had coaches who pushed me to do my best,” Benson said. “And then, of course, being from Kane, we knew Amy Rudolph made it to the Olympics, so we had it in the back of our minds while we ran.”
Now, almost 25 years to the date since Rudolph first qualified for the Olympics, Benson will get her shot in the Trials, but expectations are a little different.
“A lot of this is about the experience. About 300 of us qualified for the Trials, but only the top three go, and they’re professional athletes,” Benson said. “But to be among the pool of the fastest marathoners in the U.S. is fun and exciting.”
That said, don’t expect Benson to just roll over, either.
“I’m really competitive, so I’ll go down there to race knowing I won’t make the team, but just to see how I do against the best,” she said.
She hasn’t set a preferred finish time for herself, in large part because the marathon course in Atlanta is hilly, which yields slower times.(07/17/2019) ⚡AMP
Atlanta will host the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon for both men and women, USA Track & Field and the United States Olympic Committee announced Monday. Hosted by Atlanta Track Club as the local organizing committee, the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon will be held Feb. 29, 2020, and will take place in conjunction with the...more...