Northwest Winter Challenge Profile: Ben Thomassen


Brothers are there for each other through thick and thin. They get in trouble together, and they support each other during tough times. Northwest Winter Challenge participant Ben Thomassen’s life changed when dared by his brother to participate in a triathlon. Now, this finisher of multiple Ironman competitions and the Bigfoot 200 looks to get redemption in the Northwest Winter Challenge after having dropped out last year due to an injury.

Ben Thomassen has not always been an athlete, but running has helped to revamp his life over the past five years. “I started running 5 years ago when my brother more or less dared me to do a triathlon with him,” says Ben. “That dare changed my life, now sober 5 years [on] January 24th, 2019, and a multiple Ironman finisher. Running has been my therapy. Without it, I don’t want to know where I would be today. Running saved my life.”

However, the year 2018 did not start as well as Ben would have liked. After being the early mileage leader of the 2018 Northwest Winter Challenge, he was forced to drop due to injury. “I had to drop out a few weeks in due to a partial tear in my Achilles. I was very concerned, as I had a full ultra-marathon race schedule for the year,” says Ben.

Though dropping out of the Northwest Winter Challenge and other events early in 2018 was disappointing, Ben was focused on getting healthy for what he called his ‘A’ race in August 2018: the Bigfoot 200, a 200-mile point-to-point adventure on foot around the Mt St. Helens National Monument.

Ben Thomassen competing in a triathlon. Photo credit: BuDu Racing, LLC
Ben Thomassen competing in a triathlon. Photo credit: BuDu Racing, LLC

To keep himself motivated while running, Ben focuses on people he cares about. “Every single run I keep a friend or family member in my mind that I feel can give me a boost when I need it. Last year I ran for a friend of mine who is battling cancer… my pain and discomfort is nothing compared to his.” Focusing his thoughts on his friend got him through the Bigfoot 200.

In 2019, Ben is starting the year seeking redemption for the Northwest Winter Challenge. Instead of going for the win, he is looking to finish the month feeling strong. “I hated leaving this challenge unfinished. Although I am not doing the distance…to stay at the top of the leaderboard, I feel good about where I’m at in my running and am really enjoying myself.” The aspect that Ben enjoys the most about the Northwest Winter Challenge is the camaraderie among participants. “One of the best things about this challenge is all the runners and walkers supporting and motivating each other to keep going. I love seeing that.”

For the remainder of 2019, Ben will focus on multisport races with multiple triathlons in his plans. “In 2019 I will be returning to triathlon competition where I will be representing Rudy Project North America and XX2i Optics in events across the PNW.” You can follow Ben on Facebook at @ Thomassen.Ben.

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