I am a Runner. The Ben Davis Story

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(Shared thoughts by Adam and Tim)
“I am a runner.”  Authors, bloggers, philosophers and poets have written volumes in an attempt to capture the meaning of this four word phrase.  The love affair we runners have with our sport is intensely personal, yet shared by all who pour their souls, energy, sweat, and passion into a sport they can love and hate at the same time.

“I am a runner” who occasionally finds a moment of clarity amidst the chaos and confusion of my day-to-day living.  I occasionally get a glimpse of something that is pure and beautiful to give me balance and perspective.  What is it about running that gives me these moments?  Maybe it is the feeling of having my heart, lungs, tendons and muscles working together in perfect balance, which gives my brain peace and the optimistic hope that the whole world can find such a balance.  The hope that humanity will be able to look past the differences between us, and discover we are all the same.  Sometimes I find a moment of clarity on the trails or roads, and sometimes I find one in a fellow runner like Ben Davis.

Ben Davis has a story to share.  He is a kindred spirit who reminds us how fortunate we are to share the running path with others.  Watch the video below to be inspired by one of our own, who personifies what it means to be a runner.

“I am a runner.” When I am running, I am full of hope.  Even though my body is in distress and sometimes agony, I cannot feel sorry for myself.  Despair can’t catch me.  I am running; chasing a better me, and creating a better tomorrow.  I am connected to my fellow runners by a bond that defies logical or rational definition.  I am proud to be a member of this elite club where runners of every possible speed, shape, color, and size understand what it means to run.

Ben Davis is a runner.  This means that he and I tread on common ground.  We are kindred spirits who are more alike than we are different.  I am proud to be a runner, and proud to have Ben as a kindred spirit and friend.  Hearing his story, I am re-inspired and re-invigorated to go out and run, to “Do Life” or take action to create the life I want to live.  Like Ben I know I can accomplish these things.  How do I know?  Because, like Ben, “I am a runner.”

What do those words mean to you?

*Check out Ben’s website at www.bendoeslife.com also be sure to like his facebook page Do Life

**This week Adam and Tim will be joined by Ben Davis on their weekly radio show.  Listen live, Sunday morning October 31st, 9:00 on the west coast, 12:00 in the east.  Sign up as a listener, and follow along in the chat room or call into the show to talk to Adam, Tim, and Ben right from your computer.   http://www.blogtalkradio.com/runtheedge

Click on a picture below to buy one of Ben’s “Do Life” Tee-Shirts

18 Responses to “I am a Runner. The Ben Davis Story”

  1. Sierra Stevens

    “I am a runner”

    It’s hard to put into words how I feel about this phrase. Before, I thought my mom and dad were crazy for running the number of miles that they did. I ran track in Middle school, played soccer, and did all kinds of sports that involved running. And yet I still couldn’t figure out why my parents would run as many miles as they did in a week.

    And then High School started. I needed something to occupy my time until spring soccer began. I picked Cross Country, and everybody who knew me (and knew how much I hated running) thought I was utterly out of my mind.

    Maybe it was my need to feel pain that drove me to find a love in something I never imagined loving before high school. Maybe it was the fact that I wanted to do something new. Or maybe it was the fact that I thought running would help me become skinnier, if only to stop the teasing by my classmates who thought they were all that.

    In the end, I figured out something. All those miles, all the stories and laughs shared, the tears shed, the frustration helped me come to terms with something inside of me I didn’t know was there. The miles, the puking, the shivers, the pain, the workouts. The crunching of leaves and “puddle runs” with the girls. The family aspect of the team. It all helped me discover and awaken in something in me that I never knew was there. It helped me realize that there was more to running than just pushing one’s body through pain and suffering. That one could discover parts of themselves, parts that were locked away until a long run or until a workout.

    “I am a runner.” Thats my reply when I am asked what sport I participate in. I just tell them I am a runner and some understand what I mean by that, others ask what I mean.

    Running is a sport of pain. It is a sport where you can do a little self-discovering on. It is a sport that anyone with a little bit of motivation, desire, and even (dare I say it) craziness can do.

    Adam Goucher once said in Running with the Buffaloes “For something to hurt that bad, and feel so good, it’s just inexplicable.”. To me, thats how I can really describe running and the term “I am a runner” to someone who thinks I’m out of my mind or hasn’t ever ran before.

    “I am a runner.” :)

  2. Tim

    Well Said Sierra! I think a lot of people feel the same way as you do. I know I do! Thanks for the honest words and your usual fantastic contribution!

    • Sierra Stevens

      No problem Tim.

      • Adam

        Sierra,
        Thank you for sharing such excellent words and wisdom! You’ve got amazing perspective for someone so young and I’m excited that you’ve chosen to be apart of what Tim and I are doing week in and week out!

        • Sierra Stevens

          no problem Adam :) You guys are amazing. I love the blog and the radio show and I’m happy to read it/listen in every week :)

  3. Alice Sayles

    I totally agree with Sierra’s comment too, i feel very much the same way :-) !

    Running has definately helped me as a person- i have optimism because i am healthy and happy; it has always been there when i was going through a tough time, i was able to just forget about my problems and i was completely de-stressed, it was and is an antidote to my problems! Thankyou so much for sharing this video- it truly is inspirational and makes me proud to say i am a runner too!

  4. Ben Ward

    Hey Tim. Great story thanks for sharing it.

  5. Sheila S.

    Great show guys! Can you ask Mr. Davis why he chose to bandit the Boston Marathon this year, and wear the finishers’ medal that he didn’t earn? And by doing so, cheapening the medal for everyone who worked years to earn the right to wear it? Thanks!

    • Tim

      Hi Sheila! We did not get to ask Ben this question on the air but I talked to him about it on the phone. He did bandit the race and now that he understands the sport a little better, (He didn’t even know what a 5K was two years ago) he would not do it again. However, his story about the race is fascinating. I had no idea there was such a large bandit culture there or that the race directors and officials do not do much to police it. Apparently, the race officials move all of the bandits to the back and keep them in a corral at the very end until the other runners have gone off. Even the race director Dave McGillivray was a Boston Bandit many years ago. Mr. McGillivray orders portables and provisions for 29,000 instead of 25,000 to accommodate the bandits. Then they only pull bandits who try to finish in under 3 hours. The others they allow to cross the finish line. I am not defending what they do and we do NOT condone banditing any race. I was just shocked to learn all of this information after I asked Ben your question. I never would have guessed it was the way it is. Anyway, Ben is not proud of what he did and now that he has a better appreciation for the sport would not do it again. I hope that answers your questions. Here is a link (there are many) that gives more information about what I learned and mentioned above. Have a great week! http://www.boston.com/sports/marathon/blog/2009/04/acknowledging_the_boston_bandi.html

      • Sheila S.

        Thanks for your reply Tim. The only problem is, I live just north of Ben in Arkansas and have had the displeasure of meeting him at some racing events. Our problem with him is not that he bandited the marathon, but that he chose to accept and wear the medal. It still hangs on his medal display rack today (this alone shows he doesn’t regret what he did). Those of us who trained for years to wear that medal who I know were very disheartened to see the pictures after he did it. When a friend of mine confronted him about it, his attitude was that of “who cares? I ran the marathon too”.

        Ben was a nice guy earlier this year when I met him, but has lately shown that he cares only about self-promotion. He talks about nobody but himself. I was in awe when I read that he completed an IronMan, but my experiences with him since have shown me that everything he does has an ulterior motive–to grow the cult of personality that he is creating for himself and to self-promote. He believes that he is special. I have never had weight problems, but many of my beginner running friends have in the past. Now that they’ve run marathons, how come they don’t have sponsors giving them money like Ben does?

        • MSU runner

          I do not know Shiela, and although what some of what she said may have been a tad hateful, I have also met him and can confirm most of what she has said. I havent run Boston and it may be several years before I’m able to qualify for it, but I agree that his wearing and owning the medal without earning it cheapens it. Ben puts up the front that he cares about getting the word out about fitness, but from what I can determine he only cares about himself. I introduced myself to him at a race after seeing his video and he barely acknowledged me or the friend I was with.i told him that what he did was amazing and he just had a ‘yeah, whatever, who the hell are you’ attitude. I shared this experience with some running club friends and they all said they’ve seen that side to him too. very disappointing.

          The friend I was with commented that the guy is just like Dane Rauchenberg…. he only cares about you if you’re a girl or you want to buy his stuff. After having both as friends on Facebook at one time or another, I think thats spot on..

          • Tim

            Sheila and MSU Runner,

            Thank you for your thoughts. We will leave them up for people to read and come to their own decisions. From our end, we have only had wonderful experiences with Ben. We realize that nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes (including us) Hopefully, at the end of the day, we all do more good in the world than bad. Ben and his story have done remarkable things for many people. Of course this does not absolve him of all of his flaws but his self promotion is allowing him to reach even more people.

            I hear what each of you are saying, but so far from my experience Ben is an honest and humble man. I am happy to have him as a new friend even if he does not handle every situation perfectly. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! Tim

          • Ben

            MSU Runner,

            Obviously I have to work on my real-life rapport. I assure you it is not arrogance or cockiness. It is awkwardness that undoubtedtly stems from my years of straying away from being around people at all.

            I am very quiet in person and this is coming across as self-importance. I am identifying that and will work on it :)

            Seriously though, I don’t think I’m important or better than anyone.

            email me if you want to talk further,

            bendavis401@hotmail.com

        • Ben

          Sheila,

          I won’t lie and say it didn’t hurt very much to read your comments.

          First I’ll talk about meeting you. I can’t remember a time that I’ve met someone that has recognized me from the blog that I wasn’t blown away and incredibly humbled. I cannot speak to the occasion in which you are referring to when I seemed arrogant or self-important and I hope I was just having a bad day, because, seriously, that’s not who I am. I do not think I’m special in any regard.

          If I did seem rude, I apologize, it was probably me feeling awkward more than anything. It’s still very odd to be recognized, but I’m working on it. I love nothing more than the Arkansas running community and it sucks to know that there is bad blood L I would love to speak with you and really hash this out.

          I will have to disagree with you, though, on the “only talking about himself,” thing. In real life, there’s not a subject I feel more awkward talking about than myself. If you’re talking about the blog, then yes, I admit, I do talk about the goings on of my day more than anything because the blog is set up to be a means of communication with my grandmother (whom I started the blog for in the first place.)

          Now, to address Boston

          You say, “when a friend of mine confronted him about it.” But, I can honestly not remember anyone ever confronting me about it. My story about Boston has always been the same.

          Two days before the Boston Marathon I was at work here in Arkansas when I got a text from my dad. It read, “Dude, I’m banditing Boston. Hehoo!!” After a few exchanges, I found out that my brother had flown up and he was doing it too. Knowing that I don’t fly on airplanes (I didn’t at the time.) they didn’t bother to tell me.

          So, I faced my fear and flew up the next morning.

          The whole idea was to “experience the Boston Marathon.” To line up at the back in the bandit corral (seriously, there’s a coral.) and to run the course at the end of the pack.

          When we finished the course, 4 and a half hours later, a volunteer offered me a medal and I took it. Now, this is where I think the enormity of the situation lies for you. I didn’t put any thought into this. It might seem like a huge foul for most people, but in the moment, I was freezing and dehydrated and didn’t have much going on in my mind. I just grabbed it without thinking. I don’t regret it, because, I don’t think having the medal means anything without qualifying. Anyone can just steal or buy or forge a medal; it doesn’t mean anything unless you did what it takes to get the medal (which I did not). The medal to me is a keepsake of a vacation I took. Something to remind me of stuff I did. I do understand the importance of Boston, but I’m on the side of the fence that says, “if someone wants to bandit a race, it doesn’t affect or cheapen any of the official finishers’ efforts.” because it doesn’t. Just like people who finish after 17 hours at an Ironman can’t be called Ironmen, I can’t say I qualified for Boston. And that’s all.

          As far as self-promotion, I’m assuming you mean the T-shirts and stuff? Yes, I’m proud of the T-shirts and the message they convey. Doing Life was what really saved my life and it seems that other people are fond of the message too. There is a very cool online community and we help each other. One way I try to help is to share my experiences with people that are struggling and answer as many questions as I can when people ask me for advice. I do not have an ulterior motive, because I don’t really have a primary motive. I sit, I blog, and I run. That’s all I do. When you mention your friends that have lost weight and run marathons, did they attempt to contact any sponsors? Did they want sponsorship? Obviously there has to be a small percent of self promotion because if there wasn’t, I wouldn’t have any audience at all. From the beginning of this whole journey, one of my goals has been to connect and help others and there’s really no way to do that if there’s no audience.

          Again, I do apologize if I was rude, it was not my intention. I also apologize for this novel of a comment…

          Feel free to email me, Sheila, bendavis401@hotmail.com

          Ben

          • Tim

            Well said Ben! Thanks for responding. Keep up the good work!

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  7. RaeLeigh Narisi

    Ben, This is RaeLeigh… I don’t know if you remember me but we had Spanish II together back in … 2011? ’09? Can’t remember. With Courtney Barr (i think, hah). I am currently living in Atlanta for the time being, and I picked up the running magazine “Competitor” from an outdoor gear store and saw a small ad for your book and so forth. I was like, “Wait… that guy was in my Spanish group.” Hah.

    Wow. What a lot that can happen within a few years! Last thing I remember is that you were debating dropping that class near the end, and next thing I know I see all this with your blog and story. I have recently become completely fascinated with running and the kinds of self-journeys many people find themselves in and working through in this sport. I had never enjoyed running when I was younger and saw myself as “simply not built for it.” That was why I thought it was never comfortable or easy for me. Long story short, through some consistent diet changes and being inspired by similar people like yourself, I have fallen in love with the practice and dream of running ultra distances one day. I don’t know if that will actually ever happen, but the change from my limiting perspective of “marathons aren’t healthy and that is the ultimate distance a human can run,” to “we must have no idea what the human body and spirit are really capable of,” has been extremely important to my general outlook on life. I am still a baby in this sport, but I am loving every step of the journey!

    Anyway, I wanted to say I am excited for you and can’t wait to read some of your stuff. There will be harsh comments and misunderstanding criticisms, oftentimes from those who wish they could tell a story like yours or who feel jealous that you have something they don’t, that it’s not fair (we really don’t change much from when we were kids playing on a playground to the time we are hardworking “sufficient” adults… we just learn to act more politically correct and stuff down what we really feel). Haters gonna hate, but you gotta do what you gotta do, and make sure you do everything out of love and with love.
    Hope you are doing well!!
    Live adventurously.

  8. RaeLeigh Narisi

    Ben, This is RaeLeigh… I don’t know if you remember me but we had Spanish II together back in … 2011? ’09? Can’t remember. With Courtney Barr (i think, hah). I am currently living in Atlanta for the time being, and I picked up the running magazine “Competitor” from an outdoor gear store and saw a small ad for your book and so forth. I was like, “Wait… that guy was in my Spanish group.” Hah.

    Wow. What a lot that can happen within a few years! Last thing I remember is that you were debating dropping that class near the end, and next thing I know I see all this with your blog and story. I have recently become completely fascinated with running and the kinds of self-journeys many people find themselves in and working through in this sport. I had never enjoyed running when I was younger and saw myself as “simply not built for it.” That was why I thought it was never comfortable or easy for me. Long story short, through some consistent diet changes and being inspired by similar people like yourself, I have fallen in love with the practice and dream of running ultra distances one day. I don’t know if that will actually ever happen, but the change from my limiting perspective of “marathons aren’t healthy and that is the ultimate distance a human can run,” to “we must have no idea what the human body and spirit are really capable of,” has been extremely important to my general outlook on life. I am still a baby in this sport, but I am loving every step of the journey!

    Anyway, I wanted to say I am excited for you and can’t wait to read some of your stuff. There will be harsh comments and misunderstanding criticisms, oftentimes from those who wish they could tell a story like yours or who feel jealous that you have something they don’t, that it’s not fair (we really don’t change much from when we were kids playing on a playground to the time we are hardworking “sufficient” adults… we just learn to act more politically correct and stuff down what we really feel). Haters gonna hate, but you gotta do what you gotta do, and make sure you do everything out of love and with love.
    Hope you are doing well!!
    Live adventurously.

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