Inspirational runner better now at 55 than he was at 17

- More than 27,000 people are literally going to hit the ground running at 5:30 p.m. Sunday morning for San Francisco's 40th marathon.

One of those runners is a 55-year-old man who, shockingly, ran the race faster last year than he did when he was 17-years-old.

We caught up with Scott Benbow during his lunchtime jog up Market Street.

His rhythmic running and orange t-shirt stood out amidst a sea of chaos as scores of hungry 'techies' lined up at food trucks, tourists meandered about and homeless people slept in the sun near the fountain.

This is the training ground for the 150-pound dynamo as he prepares for the city's 40th marathon this weekend.

"I never run at the track," he said matter-of-factly. Benbow prefers to jog along the Embarcadero or through Golden Gate Park.

Some of this year's runners are older, perhaps faster than Benbow but as he's aged, he's somehow gotten faster.

"When I was 17 I ran it in 3:58:39 and when I was 54-years-old, a year ago, I ran it in 3:58:06," he said smiling.

That's 33 seconds faster as a 54-year-old and Benbow says he'll take it. 
When he was 17, he ran the New York Marathon.

"I was in great shape but I knew nothing about running a marathon," he laughed.

Now the married father of a 12-year-old son says he's more "running savvy."

He admitted that San Francisco's course is tougher than New York's but he believes he's now developed a better workout strategy and eats two bowls Irish oatmeal before race time.

"He's so inspiring as a co-worker just, you know, his accomplishments that he's running like I can barely run half a mile!" exclaimed Zainab Altai, Benbow's co-worker.

His fellow workers at Operation Access, a public health non-profit, said it's not unusual for Benbow to lace up his shoes at the office and disappear on a run.

The staff says he proves you can do whatever you set your mind to at any age.

"It was a nice personal thing to do," said Benbow. "And if it inspires anybody to get off the couch today and go running, that's a good thing!"

Sidelined from intense training due to a foot injury, the 55 year old says he's sticking to the half marathon this year.

On keeping active as you age, Benbow offered this advice. "I'd say by 55 most people know what they like and what they don't like and I would just, if it was tennis, at an earlier point in your life pick that up again, if it was rugby, probably try something else," he laughed.

Luckily for Benbow, all he needs is a pair of running shoes and he's off.

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