USAT Foundation Supporter Opening Pathways to Tri for Youth
by USA Triathlon Foundation
What began as long bike rides together during lockdown has led Mark Benson’s son to the cusp of a pro triathlon career. Through his generous donation to the USA Triathlon Foundation, Mark hopes other youth will have the same opportunities to flourish in the sport.
Mark did his first triathlon in 1982, while a university student in the U.K. He kept up with running but took a 30-year hiatus from multisport, partially due to a demanding job with Johnson & Johnson that took him around the world, including Singapore and the United States, where he now lives.
After going on a program called the Corporate Athlete in 2010, Mark returned to triathlon.
“Fitness for me was doing more running, but I was getting tired of running at that point,” he said. “I’m fiercely competitive in many aspects of life. With racing, I love the nervousness, the adrenaline and the competition.”
He and his son, Arthur, frequently biked together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Arthur had previously “done a bit of biking” and raced in a triathlon his college had organized.
“When lockdown came, we’d do 20 miles and then 10 extra every week,” he said. “We did quite a few centuries then and he’s really just taken to the sport now.”
Arthur has gone on to several major age group and overall wins. And Mark’s two daughters are avid runners, with his oldest having recently run her first marathon and his youngest competing in fell running in the UK. The off-road sport involves running sloping or hilly courses.
“My kids are just inspiring me, and it just gives me loads of energy,” said Mark, who recently turned 58. “My kids are also very fortunate that they’ve had a very privileged upbringing. I’m at the age where I want to give back where I’ve gotten a lot of value.”
That’s why Mark is passionate about supporting the USA Triathlon Foundation, particularly opportunities for youth.
Encouraging youth participation is one of the Foundation’s three pillars. In 2022, the Foundation awarded thousands of dollars in Pillar Grants to multisport programs for youth nationwide, including ones like Exceeding Expectations and Kids That Tri Cleveland that serve diverse youth, and others like CFL Tri Club, which serves Special Olympics triathletes and Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club, which serves youth facing physical or visual challenges. Grants also support up-and-coming junior athletes, including Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls who need extra help getting to the next level.
“With my donation, I want to be able to give those opportunities to other kids who may not have had the privileges that my kids or other people have had,” Mark said. “Once you get addicted and have that passion around the sport, it’s just fantastic.”
Mark will be supporting the Foundation through five years of generous donations, which will provide opportunities like races and equipment. Having experienced an active childhood, he knows firsthand the difference it can make later in life.
“You’ve got to have the fitness to be able to support your work and keep mentally strong,” he said of his career, which involves medical devices. “Getting kids into habits like that at a young age allows them to be successful in life, which goes way beyond the excitement.”
He likes to think the excitement can be contagious. After all, his love of triathlon rubbed off on Arthur.
“Everyone has the capabilities to succeed if they’re given a chance,” Mark said. “I’m fortunate with my career to have the opportunity to give back and support others. I hope they’ll get the bug and the opportunity.”
The USA Triathlon Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the charitable arm of USA Triathlon. With its mission to transform lives through sport by providing opportunities to swim, bike and run, the Foundation serves to generate a greater impact on the multisport community through charitable giveback and grants that advance the Foundation's three pillars: (1) Encourage youth participation; (2) Inspire adaptive athletes; and (3) Ignite Olympic/Paralympic dreams. Since the Foundation was established in 2014, it has provided millions of dollars in grants to organizations and individuals in pursuit of its mission and pillars to create a healthier United States through triathlon.