Friday, June 19, 2009

Prayer for a Champion and a Fellow Runner

I had a post all ready to go, with pictures and everything about the fun we all had at the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon last weekend. An email just came in however from the ultralist and I felt it was important enough to share here. I don't know Ben Hian but from what I've heard he is an incredible runner and a truly down to earth, nice guy. He sounds like a lot of people I know in this sport. Ben won the San Diego 100 two weekends ago, his first 100 mile win after being absent from the sport for a decade. I echo Mike Palmer's sentiments, the ultra list member who forwarded the news this morning, about being saddened by the turn of events. The good news is that Ben is doing well now and will make a full recovery. The story is a great reminder that we are not invincible. Sobering news. We all push and work very hard, from the front to the back of the pack. It could have been anyone of us.

Back in high school at a large wrestling meet, I was with friends yelling, cheering, laughing with my teammates when we suddenly heard yells of pain from the center mat. One of the wrestlers had snapped his arm bracing himself from a takedown. As rowdy, loud and competitive as high school boys can get we all stopped and watched. There was a hushed silence. Thoughts of competition left me and I felt genuinely bad for my fellow athlete. It could have been anyone of us. That's a bit of what I'm feeling now. Ultra-marathoning is fun, competition is fun, pushing my body to the point of breaking and deliriousness is fun but at the end of the day I want to survive in one piece with no trips to the medical tent or the hospital.

The news about Ben Hian from Scott Mills, forwarded to the ulra list by Mike Palmer:

Shortly after finishing the race, Ben wasn't feeling well in the shower area and asked Audry to get a paramedic to check him out. While talking to the medic in the shower, Ben fainted and was luckily caught in his fall by the medic. He came to shortly there after and we then called for an ambulance as the medic was very concerned with Ben's vital signs.

He was rushed to Grossmont hospital and given an IV along the way. Over the next several days, Ben's kidneys shut down and even though he went through over 20 IV's his kidneys wouldn't process food or saline solution. The doctors think that excessive amounts of damaged myoglobin from extreme muscle trauma and dehydration caused this. His weight shot up from 147 lbs to 177 due to retention of fluids in his extremities. After all of last week, his kidneys finally started processing again and his weight and appetite began to return. He expects to be out of the hospital soon but has been in for over a week and a half. This was very serious stuff. The doctors indicate he will be alright but he won't be able to return to serious running for several months. They also discovered a small leak in one of his heart valves (heredity related) while doing a myriad number of tests on him.

Ultra running is very serious business and we all need to respect our limitations and take care of ourselves throughout training and races. Ben pushed very hard ....he told me on the phone that with as much as 30 miles left in the race...he wasn't feeling right but persisted in spite of slowing down and working harder than normal. He is one tough dude and we are all happy to see him get past this and back to health. He is already talking about running Noble Canyon 50K but acknowledges that he won't be ready for AC.
AC refers to Angeles Crest 100. A race Ben has won several times in the past. A race course much harder than SD. Here's to Ben's full recovery and how about that medic.


  1. Wow I missed that on the list.

    A big reminder that we really are not as invincible as we think we are!

    Thanks for recirculating!

  2. Sorry to read this but ultra running is really tough and once we joined it, our lives were always at risk. Listening to our bodies is very important that's why I chose to DNF in the recent TNF100 rather than continue, for I already reached my limit.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    God bless.

  3. Smart medic. I will add Ben to my prayers. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for the sane reminder to care first for life and limb, then to victory or time later. My heart goes out to Ben. Hope he makes a full recovery.


  5. Ultrarunning is an important part of our life but it is NOT our life.

  6. wow sorry to read this ... glad he was able to recover and hopefully back to full health soon!

  7. If there is only a way to know the fine line between the best one can be and overdoing it, we won't be talking about this story. Thankful that he's now okey, and hopefully this doesn't happen to him or any other runner for that matter again.

  8. Wow....I hope he is ok and recovers fully.

  9. how old is he? i hope he will recover well.

  10. Definitely sending thoughts and prayers from Minnesota. All the best to Ben and his family, and may he have a speedy and full recovery.