Spikes23 Jun 2015

Being Blankenship


Ben Blankenship GoTrackTown

Rising US middle-distance star Ben Blankenship has cultivated a rather unique look and has a distinctive personality to match. Here’s our special guide to being Blankenship.

Grow your hair

Ben Blankenship had long hair throughout his high school years until one day, in his sophomore year of college, he decided to shave it all off on a whim so that he was “almost bald”. Thankfully the long hair has since returned and has become the cornerstone of his look.

“I tend to be a little bit different, maybe,” admits the laid-back Minnesotan from the city of Stillwater. “I’ve basically been growing it for the past few years.

“I guess some days when it is hot and miserable I wish I didn’t have it, but I don’t put too much thought into it. Women have long hair and they don’t seem to be too affected by it.” 

Get beardy

As a good friend of fellow hirsute US middle-distance runner Will Leer, is it any wonder Blankenship has also cultivated the beard? In fact, Blankenship claims he actually had it first.

“I would say I’ve had it longer than him,” he says. “Will and I are both good friends. We are also both from Minnesota, so I don’t know whether it is Minnesotan thing.”

SPIKES thinks it could be; Garrett Heath is also from Minnesota and is known to sport beard through the cold winter months.

Blankenship’s basic beard rule is to trim it back once a month to keep on top of it “otherwise it looks like a goat beard”.


Ben Blankenship WR Bahamas


SMOOTH: Blankenship anchors the US distance medley relay team to a world record in the Bahamas

Headband on the run

The headband first appeared in Blankenship’s debut professional race, and it has remained a consistent element of his look ever since.

“I kind of like it and it has become my thing. If I have all this hair, I might as well wear it down.”

He admits to having “a stockpile” of headbands because “the elastic tends to wear out pretty quickly”. The 26-year-old says his favourite is the white headband, although he doesn’t dwell on the colour too much.

“It’s just a headband, it doesn’t really matter.”

Invisible ink

Blankenship is a man of several tattoos, not that it is immediately apparent, as he likes to keep then hidden.

He has a stargazing lily on his left shoulder, a Minnesota tattoo on his thigh and a hummingbird on his arm, but the big one is the pine tree black bear on the whole right side of his ribs.

“That was the one I gave a bit of a thought to,” he admits. “I’m still trying to get it finished. I got it done four days before the conference champs and wearing a jersey for the three days before was unbelievably painful.

“I try and limit my tattoos to spots on my body where, if I wear a shirt at a public event, people can’t really see them.”


Name it right

C’mon, is there a cooler name in athletics than Ben Blankenship? 

He believes it hails from somewhere in northern England (we just googled it, he’s right) and says of it: “Well, I have it, so I like it. It has a lot of letters.”

Fashionably late

Blankenship admits to being quite easy-going and having “extremely poor time management” – he was late for this interview by about 10 minutes (but he is such a good sport we won't mention that 🙈.)

“I’m never on time for anything. I’m late constantly,” he admits.

Late for the odd race, late for training, he concedes to sometimes carrying his second session of the day as late as 8pm.

“I kind of just go with the flow,” he says. And we love him all the more for it.

Header image: Sam Murphy