2017-08-10 / Sports

Northport grad shines in 100-mile marathon

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


BEN COOK, a Northport graduate, finished fifth in a 100-mile marathon from Cleveland to Akron, Ohio. 
Photo: Pat Dooley Race Photography BEN COOK, a Northport graduate, finished fifth in a 100-mile marathon from Cleveland to Akron, Ohio. Photo: Pat Dooley Race Photography In high school, Ben Cook wasn’t known as much of a runner.

Twelve marathons later, it’s safe to say Cook has come a long way.

The 1998 Northport graduate recently finished fifth in the 11th annual Burning River 100, a 100-mile marathon from Cleveland to Akron, Ohio.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” the 36-year-old said.

He completed the course in 18:28:03, finishing a little more than two hours behind winner Matthew Wieczorek.

Official race results indicate more than 200 runners entered the race — and only 142 of those entrants crossed the finish line and collected gold belt buckles. Runners had 30 hours to complete the race, which began at 4 a.m. on July 29 near Squire’s Castle and ended near Cuyahoga Falls.

Conditions were cooler than Cook had anticipated. He said temperatures never eclipsed 74 degrees, and that the shaded trails near Cuyahoga Valley National Park provided some protection.

The 100-mile race may have been his first, but his roots in running date back to 2008 when a couple of his Northport friends convinced him to compete in the Bayshore Marathon.

“I played baseball, basketball and soccer at Northport, but we didn’t have any running programs,” said Cook, who now lives in Boulder, Colo. “After a while everyone got old and started having kids. I couldn’t get people to play soccer anymore, so I had to find something else.”

The son of Tim and Vicky Cook has since finished three Boston Marathons and one New York City Marathon.

And he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. In fact, his high finish in the Burning River 100 scored him a lottery ticket for the oldest 100-mile race in the U.S., the Western States Endurance Run in California.

“The odds of getting in on your first ticket are pretty hard,” Cook said. “I only have about a 4-percent chance.”

The 2018 lottery will be held Dec. 2.

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