Robyn Benincasa’s Amazing Race

By Matt Swenson, October 18, 2018

The Transition to Paddleboarding

Luckily for me, the injury happened as I was on my way out of adventure racing. I thought, “OK, it’s time to switch sports.” It wasn’t that hard because there are plenty of other sports. I thought, “I can’t run, but I can paddle. Let’s see what I can do there.” It became equally fun to win some of those big races. I don’t try to bang my head against a wall. I look at what I’m naturally sort of good at and how I can get better. If you put together what you’re naturally good at and what you love and work really hard at it, that’s where the magic is.

Running Project Athena

Now I get to show other people what they are capable of. Most human beings are capable of a lot more than they think. We can train people to race for literally 24 hours when two years ago they were smoking cigarettes and 100 pounds overweight—or people who’ve gone through massive setbacks or traumas. We’ve had people with stage 4 cancer complete our adventure. It’s not about what you were; it’s about being the best at who you are.

I’d say half the survivors and 90 percent of fundraisers who take part in Project Athena are from corporate keynote audiences. It’s a corporate teambuilding thing for people who want to turn it into that.

Inspiring Through Speaking

Speaking is up there with Project Athena in terms of importance. I worked with a couple of corporations before I became a firefighter. Now I speak to 100 corporations per year. It’s cool to present teamwork and leadership in a way they have never seen before. I talk about adventure racing and how the teams that won were literally carrying each other. That really hits home for people. Accepting help isn’t a weakness, it’s how you win.

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