Robyn Benincasa is an American endurance racer, adventure racer, author, and motivational speaker. She was a competitor in several seasons of the Eco-Challenge: The Expedition Race reality television show. Her team won the 2000 Eco-Challenge in Borneo. She has gone on to found or co-found two companies focused on team-building for corporate clients. She is the founder of Project Athena, a nonprofit organization that helps women who have experienced medical challenges to fulfill their athletic ambitions. Benincasa holds three Guinness World Records, and is the author of the book How Winning Works : 8 Essential Leadership Lessons From The Toughest Teams On Earth.
Benincasa is a firefighter in San Diego, California, and became a successful endurance racer and triathlete. In 1995, she was a member of the second American team to complete the Raid Gauloises adventure race. In 1997, she was on the Mountain Dew-sponsored team in the Discovery Channel Eco-Challenge in Queensland, Australia. She was on the Eco-Internet team in 1999 and 2000, and contributed to that's team's first place victory in 2000. She was dropped from the team in 2001 due to a struggle with asthma brought on by exercise and altitude during a race in Switzerland. She was treated for the ailment, and stepped in to join Team Earthlink, which had lost one of its members for the 2001 Eco-Challenge in New Zealand. Benincasa and Team Earthlink finished in fourth place.
Benincasa has earned three Guinness World Records. Her first was in 2010, for the farthest distance travelled by a woman by canoe or kayak on flat water. In 2011, Benincasa set a Guinness World Record for the farthest distance travelled by a woman by canoe or kayak in 24 hours on moving water. She kayaked 371.92 kilometres (231.10 mi) on the Yukon River in Canada. She secured her third Guinness record in 2014, for the greatest distance travelled by a woman on a stand-up paddleboard in still water in 24 hours, covering a total of 146 kilometres (91 mi). She accomplished this by paddling laps around an island in Huntington Harbor in Huntington Beach, California.
In 1998, Benincasa, fellow-firefighter and Eco-Internet teammate Ian Adamson, and ultra-marathoner Liz Hafer founded Colorado Adventure Training. The three co-founders brought their experience as teammates in endurance races to build team-building experiences that encourage participants to learn to ask each other for support and to provide it. Following Adamson's dropping Benincasa from the Eco-Internet team in 2001, Benincasa ended her relationship with the company. She later founded Human Synergy, Inc., also focusing on corporate team-building, using a framework of "Eight Essential Elements of Human Synergy." In 2012, she published the book How Winning Works : 8 Essential Leadership Lessons From The Toughest Teams On Earth.
Benincasa was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2007 and was told that she might never run again. Determined to continue her athletic endeavors, she underwent hip replacement surgery and went on to run the Sedona Marathon four months later. Following her recovery, she founded Project Athena, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting women pursue their athletic dreams after suffering medical setbacks. In 2014, CNN named Benincasa a CNN Hero, citing the work of Project Athena and the 140 women the project had supported at the time.
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