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Elite Ultra Runner Jeremy Ramsey sheds pounds to chase a legend

“In all things, I try to practice moderation,” says Lynchburg ultra marathon runner Jeremy Ramsey, who during his peak training will log over one hundred miles a week. After finishing fifth at this year’s Mount Masochist 50 Mile Trail Run, Ramsey and I sat down to talk about his journey into the sport of endurance running.

How did you get into running?
When I was 25 years old I had never run farther than two miles in my life. I weighed exactly 252 pounds. One day I was sitting around the house and decided I was tired of being fat. I went to play basketball and I just could not keep up. So I started running.

How were you able to shed weight?
I lived in Bedford down a private gravel road. One day I ran down to the end of it and ran back, pretty slow. And it hurt. The first mile wasn’t so bad, but  the second mile was awful. That year I got a membership to a basketball gym. Every day I played basketball for a couple hours; then I would run on the treadmill for at least five miles. I did that for a year straight and I lost 106 pounds.

What was your first ultra?
Holiday Lake 50K in 2006. I remember David Horton looking at me during one of the training runs and saying, “You’re a good runner but you’re going to run too fast and blow up.” I remember thinking, “What a jerk. Who does this guy think he is?”  On race day, I ran the first half smart. Then, during the second loop, I took off running and all of a sudden I felt this sharp pain in my hamstring. I wanted to quit but I had friends help me get through. I ended up finishing twelfth in 4:43, but I still blew up.

What was your initial thought after finishing?
I was aggravated but then I figured, “Well maybe if I trained properly for one of these I’ll do all right.”

How did your race go at the Mountain Masochist 50-Miler this year?
I had been dealing with plantar fascitis issues since April and it was really kicking in near the loop, around mile 34. You can’t drop out when you’ve got that far.

How did your time this year compare to previous races?
I ran 7:31 last year and I ran a 7:33 this year. I was in shape to run probably at least 7:15,  but I can say that all I want to. Saying it and doing it are two different things. My main goal this year was to break 7:29:28. That’s what Horton ran at age 33 at Masochist the first year.

What are your goals for 2010?
I think I’m going to run my first hundred, possibly Grindstone. I like the idea of starting at six o’clock at night on Friday. At Grindstone, if you end up running well, you run two thirds of it at night. It looks to be a good race for me and the kind of running I like. I know the course because I marked it the last two years and I’ve helped work it. So, there’s a lot of benefits for me to picking that one to be my first hundred miler. Also, Grindstone race director Clark Zealand puts on a great event.

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