Benham raises money and awareness with 24-hour Ultramarathon

Meghan Dincler | Staff Writer

Benham’s Instagram photo containing information about the run

While students are pulling all-nighters, this teacher is spending 24 hours outdoors.

John Benham, an art teacher at Mason Middle School, completed his first 100-mile race on May 4th, after running for 24 hours. He started running in 6th grade, and ran all through high school and his first year of college. After being forced to take a break in 2014 due to some health issues, Benham ran his first Ultra Marathon — which is any run longer than a traditional marathon — in 2017. This year, he decided to push himself even further. He used this 100-mile race as a chance to raise money for Shine Like Sable, creating a campaign where people could donate to the organization before, during, and after his run.

Benham said that he’d planned multiple longer runs during the year, all but one of which got canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While modifying his plans, he decided to attempt to run 100 miles a bit earlier than planned.

“I was already training for a 24-hour race, and was planning to complete 100 kilometers (62.13 miles) in preparation for the 100-mile race in June,” Benham said. “When the June race was cancelled, I decided to change my race plan and see if I could run 100 miles.”

While he already had the 24-hour ultramarathon planned, he decided later that it would be a prime opportunity to raise money for a charity he supported. He put together a plan to raise money for Shine Like Sable, and bring attention to the cause while pushing his limits.

“I knew I wanted to raise money for a cause with the 100-mile ultramarathon, so with my children, we decided that the Shine Like Sable Foundation was a great local foundation and we wanted to help,” Benham said. “If I’m going to put myself through 24-hours of running, let’s make it for a good cause! In total, we raised $3,182 for the Shine Like Sable Foundation.

However, it was not Benham’s first time doing a run to raise money for charity. He has run multiple charity runs on his own, and has used his influence as a high school cross country coach to help raise awareness and money for charities that he and his team choose.

“Each season my team dedicates it to a specific cause and raises money for that cause,” Benham said. “For example, last year we raised money for the National Kidney Foundation, and the year before that we dedicated the season to Cystic Fibrosis.”

Along with raising money for charity through his running, he also makes an effort to spread positivity on social media and in his interactions with others who are passionate about the sport. He posts uplifting quotes on his Instagram account and tries to inspire others whenever he can.

“I have had many individuals reach out and tell me that they were inspired,” Benham said. “I had hoped the news would pick up the story to spread some positivity, but they didn’t. So I have shared my run and positive stories on my social media, including some of my favorite quotes.”

Photo provided by John Benham