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Running convert lands spot on BAA board

Marathoner Adrienne Benton began running eight years ago

Angela Rowlings
Running convert lands spot on BAA board
Adrienne R. Benton, who recently joined the Boston Athletic Association’s Board of Governors, jogs at Jamaica Pond. PHOTO: ANGELA ROWLINGS

Adrienne R. Benton, a marathoner who ran her first 5K race just eight years ago, has been named to the Boston Athletic Association’s Board of Governors, becoming the first woman of color to serve in this role in the organization’s 135-year-history. Benton now fills the position vacated by former BAA vice president Gloria Ratti, who passed away at age 90 last year.

Benton, who has completed six marathons and numerous other races, is a member of Black Girls Run! Boston and the National Black Marathoners Association. She also sits on the steering committee of the Boston Running Collective and said she brings the perspectives of a Black woman and Boston resident to the BAA’s board.

The 62-year-old founder of Onyx Spectrum Technology said she was inspired to run her first 5K after her younger sister completed one.

“I couldn’t run around the corner,” she said. “So, I started with the ‘Couch to 5K’ program, and then from there just progressed. I ran my first 5K in August of 2014 and just never looked back from there.”


Benton, who is preparing to run the 126th Boston Marathon in April, mixes three to four miles of running with bike riding and cross training. She said the regular exercise has made a difference in her life.

“For me, it keeps a lot of different health things in check,” she said. “It has even eliminated some health concerns for me. It helps keep me keep me alert, energetic, and just in general, able to get through each day pretty easily.”

Benton said she first got involved with the BAA when she hosted an event for Black runners so they would feel more welcomed and connected to the Boston Marathon and the city, and she plans to continue to work on expanding access to running and walking in the city, particularly for communities of color.

“There is a diversity-equity initiative that’s moving forward as well as the Boston Running Collaborative. So, I want to try to provide input and support as a business owner and as a former healthcare administrator to give the best input and best support that I can,” she said.

Benton said programs like Black Girls Run offer people a way to start running with a group for safety and motivation. She advises people to talk with their doctor before starting a new exercise plan, but that even small increases in activity can be life-changing.

“If you’re able to get up and walk 15 minutes in one direction and 15 minutes back, you will do a world of good for your body. It can be as simple as that. A lot of times people say, ‘Oh, my legs hurt, this hurts, that hurts.’ Well, what you find is that the more you get up to at least take a few steps, it starts to get a little easier. And you even start to have fewer aches and pains,” she said. “Fifteen minutes in one direction and 15 minutes back. If you start like that, it’ll open up a whole new world for you.”