Island runner breaks meet records at state

It's been said that youth is wasted on the young.

Speed? Well, that's a different story. Just ask Paul Benton.

Benton broke two meet records at the recent State Senior Games.

In competition in the 70-74 age group, Benton ran the 800 meter in 2:48 and the 1,500 meter in 5:50.

In the 800, he handily eclipsed the previous state meet record, by 18 seconds.

His stellar showing in the 1,500 was even more remarkable. He beat the previous best mark by 28 seconds.

The two times were noteworthy on a national level, as well.

And according to the USATrack&Field website, Benton's time in the 800 ranked fifth nationwide, and his time in the 1,500 was the third-best in the country.

"I was excited, and obviously pleased," he said.

Benton noted that he doesn't do much track racing, but instead runs 5k and road races.

"I wanted to see what it was like to be back on the track," he said.

Benton keeps moving as a volunteer coach on Bainbridge; part of the year, at Bainbridge High School, and then, at Woodward Middle School.

"I don't just stand there and hold the watch," he said.

He runs with the Bainbridge High cross country team for about six months each year, then laces up to help coach middle schoolers the ins and outs of distance running.

"I think that's part of the reason I've been able to keep in good shape ... the active coaching experience," he said.

The Washington State Senior Games, an Olympic-style multi-sport event, were held July 26-28 at more than a dozen venues and boasted nearly 2,000 competitors. The track-and-field events were July 27 at Tumwater High School.

"I was really surprised that I did as well as I did. I performed at the upper edge of what I thought I could do," Benton said.



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