Oct. 11, 2012
Living in Eldama, Kenya until he was 18, Benson Chesang decided to travel across the ocean to join the KU cross country and track & field teams and became a well-known distance runner in Kansas. While competing for KU from 2003-07, Chesang was KU's top runner his freshman and sophomore seasons. In 2004 he won the Big 12 Cross Country Championship and was named an All-Big 12 runner. In addition, he was also the only Kansas runner to qualify for the NCAA Championships that season. Just a year later, Chesang claimed the league title for the second consecutive season. Today, he can still be found in Lawrence, volunteering with the Jayhawk cross country and track & field teams while still competing in running events across the state and nation.
While running for the University of Kansas, Chesang had an older brother that ran for Kansas State. Though the brothers were apart competing for rival schools, the Chesangs' parents believed it was better that they were apart because the brothers were too close and would do "stupid stuff" when together.
What made you decide to come to KU from Kenya?
"I was trying to get a coaching job and to get more experience running. I came to KU my freshman year. My brother went to Kansas State and I heard about KU from my brother. I ran for about three years against my older brother."
What was it like running for the University of Kansas?
"It was a great experience. My team and I had a lot of fun; it was a good experience for me. It was hard and challenging, but I stayed focused and disciplined."
What was your most unforgettable year as a Jayhawk?
"I would say my sophomore year, when I won the Big 12 Championships. I won in 2004 when the championship was in Topeka. Colorado tended to be the team that dominated every year, so I was glad to beak that tradition. I thought that was pretty neat."
What was your most memorable award?
"There are a couple of them. I think my most memorable one was when they introduced me at a basketball game for getting seventh at nationals. Another good memory was when I got to flip the coin on the football field for the KU versus Missouri game. That was a good memory, at Memorial Stadium."
How challenging was it to juggle academics and athletics?
"It was pretty challenging. One of the main things is that you have to be disciplined. You have to be able to balance everything like sports and school. It is one of the best parts of being a student athlete, though."
Do you have any advice for current student-athletes?
"Discipline, discipline and discipline. It all comes to down to staying disciplined and staying focused. You have to stay focused."
Do you still keep in contact with any of your former teammates?
"I still keep in touch with a few of them, but most of them have moved on with their lives. I still talk to a few of them though."
What do you miss most about running at KU?
"Well, I still run so I don't miss it yet, but I miss being with the group of guys. Other than that, I still run and I don't stay away from running."
What is your current job?
"I run races. You can call me a professional runner. It is an easy way of making money and it is something I enjoy doing. I mean, why not go for something that is easy and enjoyable? I decided to do it because after college I started running races and winning a small amount of money. Then I just built it up from there and started winning large amounts of money. So I figured I might as well just do this. I worked for the KU Transportation Department for a while. Other than that I was just running."
What is your favorite off-course/off-track memory?
"There are too many of them. I would say meeting people from different parts of the world is a great memory I have. I made a lot of friends, and I got to know a lot of people. Being on the team was a good experience for me."