Richard Benyo

RunningUSA Hall of Champions

Rich Benyo was the editor of Marathon & Beyond, a bimonthly magazine devoted to the marathon and the ultramarathon; it was launched in 1997 and died an ignominious death at the end of 2015, a 19-yer run. He is also the author of more than two dozen books, mostly in the areas of fitness, health, and running, but more recently has written a series of books centered in the eastern Pennsylvania coal region.

His most recent running book, Timeless Running Wisdom, is his fourth book for Human Kinetics, which includes The Running Encyclopedia (written with Joe Henderson). Pennsylvania Heritage Press (a division of the University of Scranton Press) published his boyhood memoirs, Jim Thorpe Never Slept Here in spring of 2008; a collection of his short stories (Leap of Faith) was released by the same publisher in 2009. A young adult novel, The South Street Gang Vs. the Coalcracker Cyclops was published by the University of Scranton Press in 2010. Benyo has gone on to mine his memories of the Pennsylvania coal region with three additional books published by Specific Publications in 2013: The South Street Gang Goes Downhill—Fast! (another young adult novel), Mauch Chunk (an alternate world mystery), and Jim Thorpe Made Us All Olympians (high school memoirs). In 2015 he published Roughing It, Too, a novel in which Mark Twain is transported from 1864 to 1986. In 2016, the third South Street Gang novel (The South Street Gang Vs. Felix the One-Arm Ghost) was published.

Rich was a newspaper editor at the Times-News in Carbon County (1968-72), editor of Stock Car Racing Magazine (1972-77), editor of Runner's World Magazine (1977-84), a running and fitness columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle (1985-90), and he has contributed to numerous general circulation magazines.

He is the veteran of 37 marathons and in 1989 he and his running partner Tom Crawford became the first lunatics to run from Badwater in Death Valley (lowest point in the Western Hemisphere and hottest place on Earth) to the peak of Mt. Whitney (at 14,494 feet the highest point in the contiguous U.S.) and back, a distance of 300 miles, in midsummer. Rich attempted the same feat again in 1991 and 1992; his therapy has begun to take hold and he feels no urge to make another run on the course, although he has been known to detour hundreds of miles out of his intended route to visit Death Valley. In 2004 Rich and Tom were inducted into the Badwater Hall of Fame.

Rich is the president of the board and co-race director of the Napa Valley Marathon and has been a member of the board of that race since 1985. He is also the 1998 winner of the Road Runners Club of America journalist of the year award. (The RRCA apparently is unaware of his running aberrations.) In 2005 RunningUSA inducted Rich into its Hall of Champions.

For two decades, Rich has portrayed Mark Twain at a mid-summer Koyote Howling Ritual in the middle of the wilderness with roughly 100 guys who spend the weekend drinking beer, smoking cigars, and howling at the moon. Rich and his wife Rhonda currently live in Forestville, Sonoma County, California, well known for its craft beer. Rich and Rhonda spend the occasional day sailing with friends on San Francisco Bay and on The Delta and have been volunteers at the Red Star Ridge aid station at the 16.5-mile point of the famed Western States 100-Mile run for the past 25 years. Rich is also a member of the board of directors of the Forestville Water District.