You may have previously read about Ben Hill’s incredible achievement crossing the finish line at the 2016 Melbourne Marathon without the use of his wheelchair. With his mum Mary’s support, Ben tells his story in his own words.
In July 2015, I met Neville Stone, a Scope volunteer. After hearing me passionately talk about the footy, Neville thought it would be great if I started doing sports myself. He suggested that I participate in the Melbourne Marathon in my powered chair and I reluctantly agreed.
On the first morning we trained, it was windy and I was irritated. We only got 100m to the letter box when I told Neville that I wanted to go back. Neville thought that he had bitten off a bit more than he could chew but he continued to train with me every Friday morning.
After a while I started to enjoy myself and to go harder. lt was good to meet people walking, cycling and walking their dogs. We began to recognise each other and say “hi”.
In October 2015, Neville and I did the Melbourne Marathon 10km event with my friend Emma. I crossed the finish line, controlling my chair by myself for the last 30m.
Then I set myself a goal: to walk around the MCG in 2016.
We trained for months around the local park and worked with my physiotherapist so I could develop the stamina to walk the final lap.
Neville and I also spoke to people from Scope Bendigo about my marathon journey, and they got excited and decided to join too, with lots of them doing the 3KM race.
Then Channel 7 News heard about my story and interviewed me. I was thrilled to watch myself on TV and was even more determined to achieve my goals.
On the day of the race, I was calm and ready. Dad, Neville, Emma, Matt (her husband and my best mate), their kids Jasper and Jemima, Rob J. (ARA) and James Anderson (Scope) and others were with me but this time I controlled my chair all the way.
When we finally got inside the ‘G’. Dad helped me to stand and we walked the last 350 metres together.
The announcer kept calling out my name and the crowd roared. As I crossed the finish line on my own two feet, I felt so elated! Mum and Dad were crying and everyone’s cheers were deafening.
Then the Channel 7 people interviewed me again and asked how I felt. I said, “I want to do it again next year.”
I enjoyed the TV coverage and learned how many hours of filming it takes for a 29 second segment on “The Project!”
Marathon racing has given so much to me. I am much more confident now and my control, mood and communication has improved heaps.
I never ever imagined I would ever be able to run in a marathon, but I have learnt you do not need to be an athlete to run. All you need is passion, determination and good support.
This year, I want more people to join me in the Melbourne Marathon and share the journey with me.
Ben and Scope are going back in 2017!
Ben and many other people we support and staff will be taking on the Melbourne Marathon challenge again this year – stay tuned to read more about how they are getting ready in the June issue of Horizon!
Image: Ben Hill and his dad Graham walking the last 350m together to the finish line.