After giving up running, Beven comes up Roses
June 23, 2004
Laurie Los
Staff Writer

Henrik G. de Gyor/The Gazette

Kensington's Helen Beven took first place in the Run for Roses 5K at Wheaton Regional Park.



One of the things Kensington resident Helen Beven regrets the most from her childhood was not taking seriously her chance at becoming an Olympic-level runner.

Growing up in East Bourne, England, Beven was considered by many to be one of the country's top runners and Olympic prospects in the 1970s. She had the talent, but she lacked the focus and never went after it.

"I was single-minded," Beven said. "I wasn't as focused as I should have been. When you're a teenager, there are so many other things going on."

The 39-year-old Beven knows her time for considering the Olympics is long gone, but she now has her sights set on becoming a professional runner. Her performances over the last 18 months show she's on track to achieve that.

On Saturday morning, Beven breezed through the Run for Roses 5K at Wheaton Regional Park. Beven, who runs every distance from 5K up to marathons, jumped ahead early and paced herself to win in 18:56.

Alma Liebrecht, a 2002 Paint Branch graduate and Silver Spring resident, took second (20:05), followed by Melissa Lott (20:10) of College Park. K. Liisi Linask (Rockville) and Nancy Walsh (Gaithersburg) rounded out the top five, finishing fourth (20:20) and fifth (20:24), respectively.

This was Beven's sixth Montgomery County Road Runners Club (MCRRC) victory this year. She also has two second-place and two third-places finishes.

"I was just short of the Olympics," Beven said. "I had that potential and I never fulfilled it. It's one of those regrets that I have. I had the talent and I was told I could do it, but I didn't have the mind. So now I just want to get back with it. I would like to become a professional."

Beven hasn't just been winning MCRRC races, she has been dominating. Her average margin of victory this year has been 57 seconds.

In most races, Beven jumps out from the pack like she did in the Run for Roses. Even though she admits it's easier to chase someone, she would rather be ahead of the pack.

"I do like running for the front," she said. "It is nice to have someone to chase, but it's also a nice feeling to be at the front. You've got to try to pace yourself. A lot of times on these 5Ks, I go out way too fast and then die, but this one I just paced it. I knew I had a good lead so I just ran. I felt very relaxed."

After a successful running career at Hatfield University in London, Beven walked away from the sport she had competed in since childhood. Instead, she focused on a career in sports management and started a family. She moved to Montgomery County in 1999. She occasionally competed in triathlons but didn't train enough to run competitively.

In the next couple of years, stress took over her life. The strain of being a working mother of three was so unbearable that Beven took refuge in running. It was a way for her to be alone and to relax.

"It was just something I could do to get my mind off things," she said. "That's why I really started it [again]. It was something where I could be free and get my mind."

Even though Beven is juggling the responsibilities of raising three children, she has made the time to prepare for the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in October.

Beven said she enjoys running shorter distances but those around her believe she could be a great marathon runner. This time, she's listening.

"I hate the distance [of a marathon]," she said. "I have yet to run a good one. I've been told I can get a good marathon time with my pace, so I'm going to try."