THE MERRELL BLOG: WHAT'S NOW. WHAT'S NEXT. LET'S GET OUTSIDE.
I am Team Merrell: Robyn Benincasa
Name: Robyn Benincasa
Nickname: I'm sure there are many. :) My Adventure Racing friends used to call me The Human Cockroach
Home Town: Cardiff Ca
Sports: Adventure Racing, Ultra Paddling, Ultra Cycling, Ultra Elliptigo!
How I got into AR/Ultra-everything: I was racing Ironman Triathlons for 5 or so years and discovered that the more gnarly the conditions, the better I placed. So I began to look for longer, sillier events. In 1994 I read about the Raid Gauloises, the "Worlds Toughest Adventure Race" in Runners World, and soon thereafter I found myself at the start line of the Raid Gauloises in Borneo with an all-female team. After 9 non stop days of muddy, leachy terrain and death-defying whitewater, I was hooked! Yadda yadda yadda, I've since competed in over 36 Expedition Competitions on 5 continents, from nearly every Eco-Challenge, to multiple Raids, Southern Traverses, Primal Quests, World Championships, etc. Being on the podium for Team Merrell is very cool, but the most memorable experiences come from those moments of synergy in which the team is operating on one heart and one mind, doing whatever it takes to get one another across that finish line. It's a life altering experience to say the least.
What the Outdoors Means to me:
Connection to others, to our bodies, to those who have come and gone before us, and to the beauty of the world. Sometimes during a run or hike I have to stop and take it all in because its so heartbreakingly beautiful to be alive.
5 tips for getting into my sports:
*choose great TEAMmates over athletic superstars
*Learn to navigate--if you can orienteer/navigate you can get on awesome teams quickly *Always bring little tow lines (5 feet of 4ml shock cord with a carabiner on the ends), salt tabs, and a balaclava to regulate temp. *Wear thin, non cotton socks and shoes that drain and dry easily. You WILL be wet! I dig Wigwam Ironman socks and Merrell Cruise Controls as a combo.
*Check out the US Adventure Racing Association www.usara.com for races in your area. There are tons of fun events from 2 hrs to 3 days
My greatest accomplishment to date is:
*Winning the Raid Gauloises in Ecuador and the EcoChallenge in Borneo *Breaking 2 Guinness World Paddling Records for "longest distance paddled in a kayak in 24 hours by a female" this year (flat water and moving water) *The fact that my boyfriend didn't leave me after picking me up out of a boat I had literally been in for 460 miles (43 hours)in a race down the Yukon River last Summer. Now THAT's love.
When I was little I wanted to grow up to be:
*a professional athlete
*other: ALL OF THE ABOVE, and a veterinarian. 3ish out of 5 isn't bad!
The most amazing place I've ever competed was:
The Best Advice I Would Give Fellow Athletes is:
Never stop searching for what inspires you and where your unique talents lie. Its a process of elimination, but when you find your sweet spot (distance, sport, passion, the right team/solo), its amazing how quickly you begin to be competitive, if that's your goal. And whether you're competitive or not, I've discovered that the finish line is usually pretty anticlimactic compared to the moments out there along the way. The finish line and how you placed is rarely ever a true indicator of your experience out there, and THAT's the part your friends and family want to hear about. So don't get caught up in the numbers! The stories are always far more compelling.
My Favorite thing to do after a long race/challenge is: *celebrate with friends and teammates *eat and drink to replenish my body *rest and relax *move on to the next thing, I never really stop ALL OF THE ABOVE!
What keeps me going when the competition gets tough is: *Realizing that nothing I'm going through will hurt as badly as the memory of quitting or giving up. I fast forward my brain to my happy place, sitting with my parents and friends in their warm house telling the stories of the adventure and realize that its up to me, right now, which story I will be telling.
The one movie I've seen a million times and still love to watch is: *The Sound of Music
One of my secret success tips is:
*2 hip replacements. Ha! Modern technology is pretty cool. I wouldn't be upright anymore without em. And hey, the process lead to lots of paddling, so there was a silver lining.
My favorite competitive activity is:
Can't choose one...I love them all!
Other: Paddling, Standup Paddling, Hiking, Mountain Biking,
Best Training Food:
*Nutella, PB+J, anything that ends in "...O's"
Life's too short to...
*miss a day of telling your pals/family how awesome they are *obsess about ripped abs or time splits. The unknown and imperfection of things is part of the adventure!
If I could only wear one pair of Merrells for the rest of my life, I'd wear: Cruise Controls or Seismics