-By Jordan Winar
We all dream of winning and can probably remember back to when we were kids fantasizing about winning some major competition, but as we get older those dreams start to fade away. Some define winning simplistically as taking home a gold medal or a large trophy but winning can mean many things and show up in many different ways. As you race through your busy life, slow down and take a minute to hear from Ben Allen, XTERRA professional triathlete who has won all over the world as he shows us how to win in any circumstance in this exclusive edition of ‘the rest of the story.’
The year was 1985. Michael Jordan won Rookie of the Year in the NBA, Michael Jackson bought all of the Beatles songs for only $47 million dollars, and Michael J. Fox starred in the release of Back to the Future. Before these champions were made they had to be born. On January 19, 1985 a little boy was born in Australia to his parents Dennis and Janelle. As his mother held him gently in her arms, his father looked down down in adoration, joy, and love as his baby slept while swaddled up and cozy in a little blanket. He was healthy and he was theirs’ forever. They wouldn’t call their baby Michael like those mentioned above, instead they would call their little baby boy Ben and they would wonder, like all parents, while they stared at him who their baby will become one day.
Sometimes parents wish they could stop time but it keeps ticking, and as it ticks their babies turn into little boys and girls. Little Ben was a ball of energy and the only way to cool him down was to place him water. While water would cool him down, it wouldn’t slow him down, it almost seemed like he had the power to control water with his eyes. If you ever meet him his light baby blue eyes can get laser focused and pierce you like ice or warm you up like the Caribbean seas . In fact, Ben was so good at controlling the power of the ocean he started competing in open-water surf swimming and surf life saving and he would go on to win many competitions by his teenage years. His parents would smile from a distance not because he was winning but because he was living life and doing what he loved to the fullest.
Because of his numerous victories and at the young age of 20, he was selected for the Australian National Triathlon Team. His parents, Dennis and Janelle, would have never guessed the day he was born that he would be selected by their country to represent Australia in triathlon but over the years they watched their baby grow up and become a world class athlete. They were now seeing who he was becoming in front of their eyes and they were so proud.
As he kept progressing in triathlon, Ben decided to go off-road. Not off the road of life but the actual road and into the premier global off road triathlons with XTERRA. As you can imagine, he excelled quickly and turned PRO. Again, his parents were proud as they watched their baby turn into a boy, then a teenager, and now evolve into a world class professional athlete.
Ben, why is your family (relationships) so important to you?
They (my parents) are the ones who gave me the confidence and belief from the start to pursue the dream of being a world class triathlete. I’ve met some many amazing people along the way, even found the girl of my dreams (Jacqui Slack). So I’m very grateful and feel very lucky!
My coach Guy Hemmerlin has been a major influence in my sporting career giving advice and guidance towards improving myself as an athlete.
But my journey isn’t complete without my amazing sponsors, On Running, Giant Bikes Australia, Flight Centre Sports & Events, Champion Systems Australia, Nuzest, Greeper Laces, Fe Sports, Giant Wollongong, Baimed Performance, Lake CrackenBack & BandJRacing.
Standing at the start line of the XTERRA World Championship in 2012, Ben felt confident that he could win. He had proven himself on every other stage and just finished 2nd at the USA Championships weeks prior. Thousands of hours have gone into preparation and you only get so many opportunities in life to capitalize on these types races. The race began and he was out front in the swim pack just behind Javier Gomez, who won the silver medal in the Olympics that year. Ben was second going into the transition. His first five miles on the mountain bike were blazing and his baby blue eyes were laser focused behind his sunglasses. Ben was making ground on Gomez, this was his year! When all of the sudden the chain snapped on his bike. He jumped off and grabbed a chain link to repair it but soon realized his chain was unrepairable. The sound of bikes approaching from the distance started to get louder. The grinding sound of gravel crunching. He looked up and could see competitors coming and they flew by him kicking up dust as they passed. Moments ago, he was in position to potentially become a world champion and now seconds later his day was wrecked by something that he couldn’t control. All of the pain and suffering, the dedication, the sacrifice, the dream were dashed.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Ben went to Maui to win. He was a professional and if you’re a pro you know you are there to win and have your best race. With a broken bike that meant winning the race was over. Dennis and Janelle were thousands of miles away hoping their little baby with blue eyes would become a World Champion that day. He knew before they did that he wasn’t going to be the World Champion. As racers started to come into transition and head out
On Running had asked Ben what the most important race he had ever been in and he responded with, “The race of life!”
on the run they realized back home in Australia that Ben wasn’t going to win. Back out on the course Ben watched racers pass him. He picked his head up and took his chain off his bike and placed it around his neck like a wounded soldier in battle. The television cameraman who was filming Ben was waiting for a reaction but nothing would come. Ben didn’t ask for anyone to come pick him up and ride him off the course. Instead, Ben placed his hands on the handlebars, put his head down and started pushing his bike up the hot hills of Maui. He pushed his bike one step at a time for 13 miles into the transition. He racked his bike, left the chain next to it and quickly put on his running shoes and headed out on the course alone to finish his 2012 season. He ran those 6 miles not in pursuit of bringing home a World Championship, but because of who Ben had become thanks to Dennis and Janelle. On January 19, 1985 Ben was born but on October 28, 2012 his parents didn’t have to wonder what their boy would become anymore because on that day he became a true champion. Ben ran across DT Fleming beach and finished the race that day in 35th place. He didn’t give up. He didn’t quit. He finished what he started. That day he lived up to the XTERRA mantra of ‘live more.’
Ben, why do you race?
I’ll continue to chase the dream, and inspire people to enjoy life to the fullest!
Dennis and Janelle would have loved him the same if he had won that day but they were probably more proud of the man he had become that day by his actions of finishing what he started. Ben has won triathlon’s all over the world in many different countries but this moment from 2012 he recalls as one of his proudest moments in his career so far.
On Running had asked Ben what the most important race he had ever been in and he responded with, “The race of life!” Let’s be like Ben who will always find a way to win, whether it’s on a ceremonial podium or its pushing his bike for 13 miles up a mountain but in both cases he will finish what he started.. Will you?
About Jordan Winar
The Rest of the Story series is contributed by off-road triathlete and freelance writer, Jordan Winar
Jordan competed in his first ever triathlon April 22, 2017. Prior to this, he had never competed in any triathlons, bike races, or outdoor swimming competitions. Jordan competed in 12 XTERRA events over the following 5 months, eventually qualifying for the XTERRA World Championships in Maui, Hawaii.
Jordan attributes his success to his newly found Vegan lifestyle and The Gazelle Mindset.