The official tally’s not quite in, but rest assured: Ben Roberts passed a lot of folks during his Don’t Beat Ben campaign at last Sunday’s Austin Marathon.
Roberts started at the back of the pack, waiting 15 minutes after the official start time before he began running. His mission? Pass as many folks as possible. For each marathon runner that he passed, Conley Sports would donate $1 to the Children’s Heart Foundation.
In case you didn’t notice, quite a lot of people ran the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon presented by Freescale. The crowd was thick until the half marathoners peeled off between miles 10 and 11. Still, Roberts kept his cool.
“I didn’t jump over anything, I just sidestepped people here and there and the cones constantly,” he says. That, though, was mentally taxing, because he had to calculate his route through the runners the entire time.
He got trapped in an inside corner at South First Street and Cesar Chavez, but the neon yellow shirt he wore, emblazoned with the words “Don’t Beat Ben,” helped part the sea of humanity along the way. It was sort of like playing that Frogger video game.
Roberts is used to starting at the front of the pack. He’s a fast runner, with a personal record in the marathon of about 2 hours and 56 minutes. He knew he’d have to run a patient race to avoid falling apart at the end.
“I was afraid of going out too fast, then getting passed by people at the end. I couldn’t have forgiven myself if people were passing me,” he says.
In the end, the race took him 3 hours 10 minutes and 40 seconds – blistering by most runners’ standards, despite the weaving and bobbing.
“I was honored to be asked to do it. It’s such a cool idea,” he says.