HEBER CITY — Ben Light of Heber City crossed the finish line of the Moab 240 on Oct. 17. He raised his arms in triumph because not only had he completed the 240-mile distance, but a total of 645.8 miles in a three-race series known as the Triple Crown of 200’s.
However, as he thought back on the miles he trekked, an overwhelming sense of gratitude came over him. Having experienced several trials during his races, Light had no doubt that he had help from a loving Heavenly Father who hears and answers prayers.
An active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Light went into the race series with a prayer in his heart. Having lost his job the year before, Light struggled to find work with a steady income. In his efforts, he felt inspired that he should follow his passion by beginning a career in the field of outdoor adventure.
Unsure how to move forward with his career path, Light knew that in order to be relevant in the field, he needed to do something that many haven’t done before, and completing the Triple Crown seemed like the perfect thing to do. And having completed several ultra distances before, even having a 200 mile race under his belt, he knew he was capable of finishing the Triple Crown.
So, he went forward in prayer, explaining to Heavenly Father his plan and asking for help accomplishing his goal.
“To many, this may seem like a silly thing to ask for, but this was important to me,” he said. “And because it was important to me, I knew that my it would be important to my Heavenly Father, and I had faith that he would help me.”
So, on Aug. 10, Light began the first race: the Bigfoot 200 that takes runners 206 miles along the ridge of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. It is an extremely difficult and technical race that Light said went really smoothly until the last aid station.
Light recalled leaving the station at about 4 a.m. with his wife, Brittany Light, who was pacing him for the last 13 miles. His teenage daughter, who had also met him at the station, was sleeping in the family’s Jeep until it was time to drive to the finish line. However, when she put the car in reverse to get around other cars that were also parked, both of the passenger side tires slid off the side of the cliff ledge.
“When I was close to the finish, I saw my daughter, but she was in a friend’s car,” Light said. “She told us that the Jeep was stuck, but I had no idea how bad it was until we went back up there. The tires were so far off the ledge that it was only being held on by the inside walls of the driver's side tires. Had the Jeep gone any farther, even with a seatbelt on, my daughter would not have survived. I know that the Lord protected my daughter that day.”
Three and a half weeks later on Sept. 11 was the Tahoe 200, a 205-mile distance along the Tahoe Rim Trail. With little time to recover from the first race, Light said that he began to struggle early on.
“Between miles 15 to 20, I felt like I was at the end of a 200,” he said. “I was really tired, and my energy levels were low. I said a prayer while I was running, and I felt impressed that I was supposed to do this race. I told my Heavenly Father that I didn’t think that I could pull this off, and if I was supposed to do this, that I needed his help.”
Twenty minutes later, Light said that his body felt fresh, and it was as if his burden had been lifted. He was even able to pull in at the 100-mile mark in 27 hours. It was around that time, however, when Light met up with fellow runner Michael McKnight, who was not doing well.
“When I saw Michael, he was hurting,” Light said. “At that moment, I was feeling really good and had an overwhelming sense of gratitude to my Heavenly Father. I wanted to give back, so I asked Michael if he wanted a priesthood blessing, and he said that he did. So, my brother, Billy, who was pacing me, helped administer the blessing, and I knew right then that that Michael would finish.”
Over the next several miles, McKnight started to drift back, and according to Light, even contemplated dropping from the race. However, after a couple of more aid stations, McKnight began to regain his strength and not only finished the race but also came in fourth place out of 250 runners, even passing Light in the process.
McKnight went on to win the entire Triple Crown series.
“Administering the blessing and being told that Michael was going to finish, and then seeing him do it, was a testimony builder for me,” Light said. “And even though he beat me that race, I know that it was the thankfulness in my heart for my Heavenly Father and in turn, my desire to serve, that got me through my races, too.”
About a month later on Oct. 12 was the Moab 240 in Utah. This is a 238-plus mile race through desert and canyons and over slick rock and two mountain ranges.
Light said that he felt good for most of the race but at about 60 miles from the finish, he began to have some heel issues and what felt like the beginnings of plantar fasciitis. Seeing that he was in trouble, his pacers gave Light a priesthood blessing. In that blessing, he was told that he would be comforted.
According to Light, the physical comfort didn’t come right away, but instead he was given inspiration telling him what he needed to do.
“I was told that I needed to take the bandage off and ice it,” Light said. “When I got to the aid station, that is what I did. And when I did those things, it didn’t relieve all of the pain, but it made it manageable and I was able to run the rest of the way. I believe that oftentimes the Lord won’t take an obstacle away, but he will help you get through it. This is what I believe he did for me at this time.”
When Light crossed that final finish line after spending 225 hours 53 minutes and 58 seconds over the course of 645.8 miles, having reached his goal of a Triple Crown podium finish, he knew that he needed to thank his Heavenly Father.
“Running this far takes a lot of physical and mental strength. It takes determination and grit, which are things that anyone who wants to finish 645 miles must have,” he said. "But I can’t look back on the races without seeing and acknowledging the Lord’s hand in it.
“What the Lord has in store for me is yet to be seen, but I am grateful for what he has helped me through thus far, and I know firsthand that he hears and answers prayers.”
Arianne Brown is a mother of seven young children who loves hearing and sharing stories. For more of her writings, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: A_Mothers_Write