What are you thankful for? It’s the question that so many of us will pose and ponder this week. As the holiday season arrives, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the people, places, and passions that have impacted our life. This month, we’re highlighting a member of our community who has incredible gratitude for our ElliptiGO community and who has been an example of determination and finding joy during difficult days! Meet our November 2022 Rider of the Month Benton Runquist.
Benton is a resident of Davis, California, where he lives with his wife of 34 years, Pam. He is a veteran of the US Air Force, where he was a dentist and orthodontist. Benton still practices orthodonture today, though he noted that he has his sights set on retirement in 2024.
Benton’s service took him and Pam all around the country and the world – from Washington D.C. and Kentucky to Germany and Guam! The couple met in D.C. and immediately bonded over their love of being active. They are accomplished, speedy runners who have completed sub-3-hour marathons. They’ve taken on the Berlin and Honolulu Marathons together. In Honolulu, they placed second in the ‘Husband/Wife’ team division in both 1992 and 1993!
“Our first ‘date’ was a 20+ mile bike ride, after which she went off for a 10+ mile run! I’ve been chasing after her ever since!” Benton told us.
For over 20 years, they were taking on long runs, speed workouts, and meeting up with local running clubs in their different duty stations. After many miles logged over so many years, some injuries finally got the best of Benton and Pam after settling down in Davis. In 2014, a friend from their local running club asked if they’d be interested in buying her ElliptiGO 8C. They decided to give it a try!
“The price seemed a bit high but, as it turns out, it was the best investment I’ve made,” Benton said.
Both Pam and Benton used their 8C while they recovered from their injuries, but returned to running shortly thereafter. It was in 2020 that Benton got back on their ElliptiGO bike amidst tough times in his life and in our world.
A plantar plate tear, Morton’s neuroma and hammertoe made running “no fun.” He missed socializing with his vibrant local running community. On top of that, the pandemic soon arrived and temporarily closed his practice. The final blow came with a diagnosis of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Benton shared that it all put him down in the dumps.
As his birthday approached, he realized he was ready to try something new to reinvigorate his daily life. He joked, “I finally realized that baking (and eating) cinnamon rolls and sewing San Francisco Giants face masks for family and friends was NOT the answer!”
So, he set a new goal. He decided to get back on his ElliptiGO bike and ride every day in the month of May. By June, he joined the Global ElliptiGO Riders Club and his riding has skyrocketed since then!
Our community of riders has served as a great source of inspiration and friendship to Benton. He’s an active member of our community and has forged tons of new connections. He is always sharing his rides on Strava and giving kudos to other ElliptiGO riders. He is a member of our customer-run Facebook group and participates in the GERC’s annual Get Out and GO Challenge (GOGO.) He told us that the community has “really taken the place of the running club I no longer am able to be an active part of.”
In our interview, he gave shoutouts to so many of his ElliptiGO buddies: Jim Cremer, Kim Nedeau, Frank Blaisdell, Bill Pinnell, Eric Korevar, Didi Hendricks Schenck, Thomas Russo, Allen Kilpatrick, and John Burmester, just to name a few!
Benton told us that when he first joined the GERC, he would be amazed by riders who completed total distances like 10,000 miles or more in a year.
“I decided to try and ride like crazy and hit a yearly total equivalent of having ridden the distance of ‘a marathon a day’….and set 9,563 miles (365 x 26.2) as my goal. With help from GERC and the ElliptiGO community, I was able to make it!” he recalled.
From there, Benton wanted to go even bigger. He set his sights on riding 20,000 miles in 2021.
“Call it kismet, or karma, or whatever you want, but when I got off my ElliptiGO 11R in front of our house on December 31st after my final ride of 2021, my Strava mileage was exactly 21,212 miles….it was meant to be!”
Benton’s love of riding his ElliptiGO bike is evident in his mileage, and his accomplishments just don’t quit. In both 2021 and 2022, he placed 12th at the Elliptical Cycling World Championships. He currently sits at #8 on the GERC’s all-time distance leaderboard, racking up more than 56,662 miles at the time of this post!
So, what’s next for Benton? Right now, he is working towards completing an even 60,000 miles by his birthday in March and just ventured into the world of Randonneuring. Benton continues to receive treatment for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and is not letting his diagnosis slow him down.
Benton, we’re so impressed by the remarkable commitment you’ve made to riding in such a short time and by your ability to take a tough time in your life and use it to forge a new passion! Thank you for being a vibrant and enthusiastic member of our community. We are thankful for you and all the ElliptiGO riders around the world.
Contact ElliptiGO with nominations to Rider of the Month or share your own story. It may just be the next feature!