N.Y.C. Marathon: Ben True's Marathon Debut

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Ben True needed runners to bid with him successful New Hampshire, truthful helium recruited immoderate young talent.

“The mode   that my assemblage  has felt for the marathon physique  has made maine  deliberation  I tin  bash  this for a batch  longer,” Ben True said.
Credit...Kelly Burgess for The New York Times

Scott Cacciola

Nov. 3, 2021, 6:00 a.m. ET

HANOVER, N.H. — Ben True spent years grooming alone. A solitary fig connected the roads and trails adjacent his location present successful Hanover, helium logged agelong miles successful pursuit of distance-running glory. It was not that helium wanted to beryllium doing everything by himself, without the assistance of a team. But New Hampshire — acold from the moving meccas of Boulder, Colo., oregon Flagstaff, Ariz. — is location for him.

“Being present makes maine happy,” helium said connected a caller play afternoon. “I’m successful my comfortableness zone. But would I person loved to person different radical travel bid with me? Definitely.”

In caller months, up of his quality successful the New York City Marathon connected Sunday, True decided to premix things up. After spreading connection among friends that helium would beryllium consenting to spell truthful acold arsenic to wage idiosyncratic to relocate and bid with him, True, 35, present has 2 full-time moving buddies — Dan Curts and Fred Huxham, some 25 — who person utilized True to provender their ain ambitions successful the sport.

And helium has organized a play agelong run: the Tour de Woodstock, conscionable down the roadworthy successful Vermont. True posts the clip and determination connected Strava, an online exercise-tracking tool, and anyone is invited to join. Consider it the moving equivalent of Kevin Durant advertizing his pickup hoops games connected Twitter. True’s play warriors are escaped to interruption disconnected and bash shorter, slower circuits. Everyone meets for java and waffles afterward.

“It’s a societal thing,” Huxham said. “But if you’re going a agelong mode with Ben, you’ve got to beryllium acceptable to prime up the pace.”

With a tiny assemblage down him, True is acceptable for his marathon debut, astir 5 months aft helium narrowly missed an Olympic berth successful the 10,000 meters erstwhile helium finished fourth astatine the United States trials. And portion helium has guarded against putting excessively overmuch unit connected himself, helium considers New York thing of a test. A test, helium said, to spot whether helium is “cut retired for the marathon.” And a trial to find whether his aboriginal successful the athletics is financially viable.

“I’d emotion to support racing,” helium said. “The mode that my assemblage has felt for the marathon physique has made maine deliberation I tin bash this for a batch longer.”


Credit...Kelly Burgess for The New York Times

True, who grew up successful Maine and graduated from Dartmouth, has past with New York. In 2015, helium became the archetypal American antheral to triumph a 5,000-meter Diamond League race, with a triumph astatine the Adidas Grand Prix connected Randalls Island. In 2018, helium won the New York City Half Marathon successful his debut astatine the distance.

He chose to marque his marathon debut successful New York due to the fact that of his beardown narration with New York Road Runners, which organizes the marathon, and his emotion of axenic competition. Unlike respective different large marathons, New York does not employment pacesetters. And connected a notoriously challenging course, elite runners pursuit 1 different alternatively than the clock.

On Sunday, helium volition look a loaded tract including the likes of Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, a four-time Olympic medalist and five-time satellite champion. True has ne'er raced with a wristwatch, helium said, but helium plans to deterioration 1 for the marathon to support himself from himself. He has immoderate familiarity with the course, and knows however runners tin surge astatine assorted points of the race, similar Mile 16 disconnected the Queensboro Bridge.

“I’m idiosyncratic who thrives connected latching onto idiosyncratic and ne'er letting go,” True said. “But if Bekele drops a 4:30 mile coming disconnected the bridge, I astir apt shouldn’t effort to lucifer him.”

True would similar to workout patience, a constituent of occurrence that has occasionally been successful abbreviated proviso for him. He thought backmost to 2019, erstwhile helium crammed his docket afloat of races and competed successful the 5,000 meters astatine the satellite championships with an Achilles’ tendon injury. He should person taken clip off, helium said, but helium was disquieted astir losing his wellness security if his satellite ranking dipped.

“I was conscionable successful truthful overmuch pain,” helium said, “and it truly made maine deliberation that I either had to measurement distant oregon marque immoderate large changes. Luckily, Dan showed up.”

True had been circulating an unconventional connection successful the high-end moving community: He would wage idiosyncratic $20,000 to tally with him. He went a fewer years without immoderate takers.

“I’m not definite if radical thought I was serious,” helium said.

Curts, who ran astatine Iowa State, was backmost location successful Maine erstwhile helium learned from communal friends that True was successful the marketplace for a grooming companion. He moved to New Hampshire past fall, past recruited Huxham, who was a second-team all-American astatine the University of Washington, to articulation them a mates of months ago.

“I person nary thought however helium ran unsocial for truthful long,” Curts said. “There’s a crushed cipher astatine his level connected the satellite does that.”

On weekends, the 3 are joined by a motley unit of men and women — aesculapian students and engineers, erstwhile cyclists and shot players — connected the roads adjacent Woodstock. True said the acquisition arsenic a full had been energizing.

“I don’t uncertainty that if I’d had a grooming spouse done my career, I would’ve tally faster,” True said.


Credit...Kelly Burgess for The New York Times

At the aforesaid time, helium has balanced grooming with fatherhood — helium and his wife, Sarah True, an Olympic triathlete, person a 3-month-old son, Haakon — portion coping with immoderate of the harder realities of his profession. At the extremity of past year, Saucony chose not to renew his sponsorship woody aft helium had spent astir 10 years with the company.

“I americium not a societal media influencer,” said True, who has an Instagram relationship that mostly collects dust. “I bash not similar utilizing it.”

In New York, True said helium would beryllium wearing “old” Saucony sneakers and a blank singlet arsenic an unsponsored athlete.

True tends to framework his observations astir marathon grooming arsenic questions, which makes consciousness fixed his comparative inexperience. He does not cognize what to expect. “Hopefully I’m ready?” helium asked.

Yet helium has recovered marathon grooming to beryllium much forgiving than the enactment helium did to hole for 5,000- and 10,000-meter races on the track: He does much mileage now, but little of the high-end velocity enactment that often led to injuries. The effect is that helium feels amazingly spry, which has made him wonderment whether helium is doing it right.

“Everyone ever complains astir however exhausted they are during marathon training,” helium said, “and I haven’t truly experienced that?”

True understands, for example, that the people has its stock of inclines, and helium has done the bulk of his grooming connected a quiescent roadworthy that features hilly terrain. “So I’m hoping that helps maine out?” helium asked.

Because True has not had overmuch income this year, his $20,000 outgo to Curts ended up being a one-time thing, but helium has been coaching Curts and Huxham pro bono, successful summation to moving alongside them.

The acquisition has been a thrill for Curts, who taped an autographed photograph of True to the beforehand of his mileage log erstwhile helium was a precocious schoolhouse freshman.

Huxham, who placed 2nd astatine the nationalist 10-kilometer roadworthy racing championships successful July, has utilized True to gauge his ain improvement. The bar, Huxham said, is high.

He cited a caller 12-kilometer clip proceedings that True ran connected his own. Afterward, True looked arsenic if helium had gone for a brisk walk. Huxham checked True’s splits. “He had travel wrong 10 seconds of the nationalist record,” Huxham said.

There person been agelong periods, True said, erstwhile moving feels similar a occupation to him, erstwhile the injuries look unavoidable and the symptom is real, and helium asks himself: “Why americium I doing this?”

Now is not 1 of those times, helium said. He heads retired the doorway with his friends feeling steadfast and free, and runs toward thing beautiful, a spot helium had assistance finding.

“There’s thing better,” helium said.

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