Since May 30, B.C.-runner Fiona Benson has hit an amazing improvement curve. At the Victoria Run Series, she PBd by seven seconds in the 800m, going from 2:08:54 to 2:01:58. Since then, she has PBd another three times, most recently dropping under two minutes on June 14 at the Portland Track Festival, a feat only five Canadians in history have achieved. This time qualifies her for the Pan Am Games, the world track and field championships and is also fast enough to take her to Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games.
We caught up with Fiona Benson to have her tell us a bit about what this wild ride has been like.
Canadian Running: Have you always been a runner?
Fiona Benson: I was homeschooled by my mom growing up and she ran when she was in high school, so she started to structure it into the whole environment. She’s definitely been supportive. Then I ran during high school, but even then I wouldn’t have said it was something I did really competitively, it was just running to me.
I spent one year at Grand Prairies Regional College, not too far from my home in Dawson Creek (it’s a small town in the northern part of B.C) and I had a really good season. That’s when I made the decision to switch to Trinity-Western University, since the CIS offered more opportunity for competition. I started in kinesiology and ended up in political studies, so you could definitely say I’ve made a few switches in my academic and athletic career.
CR: Are you all finished school now?
FB: I just graduated in April. I’m still training with the same coach that I had while at school, Mark Bomba, but now I’m training under the community club that he coaches. It’s nice to have a lot of the same people to train with and Mark and I have a good relationship, he’s never wavered in his belief in me in all the years he’s coached me.
CR: How did you celebrate your sub-two-minute 800?
FB: [Laughs] We got ice cream! Other than that, I was really just trying to enjoy the moment after it happened. It was a lot to take in.
CR: Do you have a running hero?
FB: Oh, that’s a hard one! I would say that I haven’t tended towards fixating on one single person, but there are several runners that I identify with regards to different things. There is this one video I found on Youtube of Seb Coe running though and his stride is just perfect and it is amazing to watch. So there was one year that when I felt like I needed some inspiration, I would watch that.
CR: Your time qualified you for the Pan Am Games, will you be running there?
FB: I think there’s actually been a bit of an issue with that. I didn’t know what sort of season I was going to have, so I didn’t declare in time [you had to declare whether you intended to compete if selected by May 1]. I declared after my first race of the season, but my understanding is that it was too late at that point. The next time that I’m going to be competing is at nationals in Edmonton from July 2-5.