Athlete Without Legs Trains for 18th Marathon

Lance Benson's "no legs, no problem" motto will find him among thousands of runners in next month's New York City Marathon

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Lance Benson is training for the New York City Marathon. Like many athletes, he wakes up early to exercise before work.

    But there is one thing that makes Benson a little different from most marathon runners: "I have my own little motto," he says. "It’s, 'No legs, no problem.'"

    Athlete Without Legs Trains for 18th Marathon

    [MI] Athlete Without Legs Trains for 18th Marathon
    Lance Benson is training for the New York City Marathon in November. (Published Tuesday, Sep 7, 2010)

    The double amputee uses a special skateboard and hockey gloves to protect his knuckles from the pavement, and he is also believed to be the only double amputee who uses a skateboard instead of the traditional hand crank, according to Dick Traum, founder of Achilles International, an organization that provides support and community for disabled athletes.

    "He is supurb," Traum said of Benson, who is Miami's Achilles International president. "He's not just your average person on a skateboard; he's a national class athlete."

    Benson, a Miami real estate agent, was born without a left leg. He had to have his right one amputated when only the foot and lower leg bones developed.

    Experts declared he would be confined to a wheelchair, but doctors at a Shriner's hospital disagreed, fitting him for the prosthetics that eventually helped launched a stellar -- if non-traditional -- athletic career.

    Benson raced ATV's. He was a standout wrestler in high school. He entered bench press competitions in college, wowing others by lifting over twice his body weight without the advantage of legs muscles to push off.

    "You have to look at yourself and say, 'I can make it,'" he says. "There's nothing so bad I can't overcome it. For me, it's been more about adapting through life as it comes."

    And adapt he has. Encouraged by co-workers to sign up for a charity 5K in 2001, Benson was hooked even though his hands were a "bloody mess" by the time it was over.

    He has since completed 17 marathons.

    By now, many Miamians are accustomed to seeing Benson skating down busy Brickell Avenue, ten miles every morning. But when he's not busy training for a marathon, Lance is busy inspiring others. 

    "Reaching out to somebody recently injured, I don't mind going to the extra mile to do that," Benson says. "If it can help somebody, maybe it's God's blessing to me to help those people."

    Benson does most of his motivational work with the Achilles Track Club, an organization dedicated to athletes with physical disabilities.

    His best piece of advice: "Life is short. You have to enjoy every day and make the most of it, and luckily I have: I have a very successful career, I have a successful marriage. No matter what happens to you, there's another day to live, and a lot to live for."