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Convention Speakers

Friday March 18 - Luncheon Speaker - Ben Rosario

Ben Rosario has been just about everything in the running industry; elite athlete, special events director for a big city marathon, running store owner, marketing director, elite athlete coordinator and of course…coach. His number one passion though, has always been the competitive side of the sport and he brings a healthy obsession for success to his role as coach/president of Northern Arizona Elite. Ben was a Division II All American at tiny Truman State University, before landing a spot on the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project team in 2003. There he became the youngest qualifier for the 2004 Olympic Trials Marathon where he finished 37th. He returned to his hometown of Saint Louis in the summer of 2005 and that fall finished second at the U.S. Marathon Championships at the Twin Cities Marathon. He ended his career with personal bests of 4:03 in the mile and 2:18 in the marathon. Ben has coached everyone from third graders, to beginning adult runners to World Championship performers. His motivational skills and training knowledge have translated to success at every level. His work with the Big River Racing Team in Saint Louis produced three different Olympic Trials qualifiers; Shannon Leinert (800), Julie Lossos (Marathon) and Adam MacDowell (Marathon). He also led Canadian Stephanie Hood to top-11 finishes at the Boston (2:44:44) and Chicago (2:35:09) Marathons in 2008 as well as the Canadian Cross Country Title. In just two years with Northern Arizona Elite he has guided Matt Llano to a 1:01:47 half marathon and a 2:12:28 marathon. Amy Van Alstine won the 2014 USA Cross Country National Title. Kellyn Taylor won the 2014 USA 25k title. Kellyn has also run 15:21 for 5,000 meters, 1:10:59 for the half marathon and 2:28:40 for the marathon. Rochelle Kanuho has run 32:08 for 10,000 meters. The team now enters the Olympic year with several contenders for spots in the steeple, 5,000, 10,000 and marathon.  Learn more about Ben.

Saturday March 19 - Luncheon Speaker - Gilbert Tuhabonye


Running with Joy - Whoever said you can’t run until you learn to walk, never met Gilbert. Gilbert grew up in East Africa, running barefoot to fetch water, racing his friends and chasing cows on his family farm through the Burundian countryside. By his junior year in high school, he had become the 400 and 800 meter national champion. Running was his life. And after becoming one of many victims of the horrific Burundian Civil War, running saved his life— literally. Gilbert was burned, tortured and witnessed mass genocide. He miraculously survived. After coming to the United States as part of an Olympic Development Program in 1996, Gilbert pursued a college degree where he was a national collegiate champion, followed by a career as a professional runner and, eventually, a highly successful coach.  Gilbert’s extraordinary life experiences, unwavering spirit, and genuine compassion for others make him a fascinating and entertaining motivational speaker. Come hear how Gilbert learned to “Run with Joy”. Learn more about Gilbert.

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