Chaski Athlete Spotlight: Benaleo Daniels

Updated: May 10

In the first installment of our series highlighting our Chaski-coached athletes, we put the spotlight on Benaleo Daniels, a 23-year-old middle-distance runner from Buffalo, NY who is working with Coach Alicja Konieczek. 

Benaleo competed in track and field and cross country for Buffalo State College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health. In addition to running, he is a gardening and landscaping enthusiast, and loves to work in the yard with his girlfriend Jaclyn, who has also been his training partner for the past five years.

Photo of Chaski athlete, Benaleo Daniels (courtesy of Benaleo Daniels)

How long have you been running, and why did you first fall in love with the sport?

I was unaware that running would become my best friend forever when I first picked up the sport. In middle school I played football and briefly in high school but after a sudden injury, I took up running. My first running coach, Dave Cody, changed the way I looked at running thanks to his passion and enthusiasm. His influence changed my life, and I have been running for 10 years and I couldn’t be happier.

Why Chaski? What part of our collective's philosophy and mission spoke to you most?

From the moment Chaski popped on my radar, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, especially for my long-term goal. Chaski Endurance Collective is special in a way that will leave you speechless – the diversity of the coaches, the amount of experience and knowledge about the sport, and most importantly you gain a lifetime friend. To find dedicated coaches that are willing to sacrifice time out of their own busy training schedule to make sure you're healthy, happy and performing at your best is incredibly uplifting for a young athlete like myself.

What does being a Chaski mean to you?

To be a part of Chaski means more than I ever thought being on a team would mean. The Chaskis have given me new air, new ideas and refueled me to go faster and further than ever before. I know that the journey I have embarked on will not be a lonely one. With the Collective, we have coaches who care about your goals and will draw out a plan personalized for you.

Photo of Chaski athlete, Benaleo Daniels (courtesy of Benaleo Daniels)

What are your long-term goals for yourself as a runner?

I have a long-term goal that is slowly but surely coming to light with every step, breath and sweat and could not be attained without support and guidance from my coach and the Chaski team. My long-term goal is to run in the 2024 Olympics in the 800 meters. This has been a dream of mine since I watched the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. I like to think that there are 5 stages: dreaming, setting goals, putting in the training, stating that it will happen and being there and making it happen.

What has been your most meaningful experience as a runner?

As a runner with lengthy goals we must be exposed to our goals to keep the faith. My experience as a runner has been amazing and extremely meaningful. In high school, my coach and mentor Dave Cody took me and my fellow teammates to Penn Relays where we ran the 4x4 relay. It was so inspiring to see professional athletes run on the same track on the same day. It was on that Penn Relays track where I really understood what I wanted to do and why, to train and chase my dream and never take no for an answer. 

To this day that has not only been my favorite race, but also my favorite day and my motivation. The amount of people yelling and cheering as I circled the track carrying the baton was surreal, and yet the only voice I heard, the only voice any athlete hears is their coach “looking strong Benaleo.” I will hold that forever.

Favorite workout you've done since starting to work with Chaski?

I have been a Chaski for a month now, and I love it! My coach Alicja Konieczek is amazing and has me on the right path. All the workouts are great, but I would say my favorite is the split tempo runs. Being able to have all the tools and support from this team is worthwhile. GO Chaski!