Photo by Katie Weeks ‘16
Sophomore distance runner Steph Benko shattered the Lafayette record by ten seconds in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the Greyhound Invitational with a time of 10:40.71. Benko’s time qualified her for the ECACs.
What does it mean to you to be in the record books as the best in Lafayette history?
I didn’t realize it until after the race when someone said “Do you realize you’re the fastest girl to run the steeplechase at Lafayette?” I never really thought about it like that before and it’s cool that I got to this point. I wasn’t planning on running in college; it was something I wanted to do because I knew I could do it. It’s awesome to have that record in a program like this.
You also broke your own personal record by 17 seconds. How rewarding was it to not only have a personal best performance, but also blow away the previous best time you had?
It was awesome. It was such a good feeling to take off that much time too. It was such a difference in a year because I ran my previous time at this race last year. It was cool to show how much hard work pays off.
At what point during the race did you realize you were in the midst of an historic performance?
I knew the first couple of laps when my coach was yelling out splits. We had talked about the times I had to hit before the race. But it was really the last lap. I was so tired I kept telling myself ‘just finish, just finish.’ I forget what time my coach yelled but at that point I knew I could do it.
Was it your goal to shatter the record the way you did?
Yeah, it was definitely a goal to break the record. I didn’t realize how much time I could trim off. Last year Rose [Willey ‘14] set the record and we always train together so I knew the time and that I could do it.
What sorts of challenges do distance runners face compared to the shorter distances?
Not that the training is harder, but it’s a lot more to put yourself through mentally day after day. You need to go into practice and tell yourself that I’m going to run seven, eight or nine miles today and do it at a fast pace.
What is it about running that you love so much?
It sounds weird but it really is addicting. It feels good to run. Some people don’t get it but you just go out there and run and you feel so much better after. Especially last week, I was so tired coming to practice every single day and then I got through practice and had so much more energy.
You’re a Biology major – have you ever thought about the biology of running?
Not really actually, but we do go to the Mind of the Athlete. They are these talks that teach you about your body. Something like how sleep affects your body and performance.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
I really like to bake. I guess a lot of people know that actually. I baked a lot more last year than I have this year. I’ve always said I’m going to open a bakery after I have a career. So hopefully that works out.
Favorite Food: Tacos
Favorite Movie: Walk the Line
Favorite Runner: Don’t have one
Favorite Vacation Spot: My summer house on Beaver Lake