This week we are excited to introduce you to Solo Endurance Adventure athlete, Jamie Ramsay, who is currently prepping for his next adventure.
Jamie is an award-winning British Endurance Adventurer. After 12 years working for an international communications agency, he wasn’t happy with the direction of his life and realised if he didn’t make some drastic changes then things would continue to spiral downwards. His solution was to quit his job (where he was a newly promoted Partner), fly to Vancouver and run 17,000km to Buenos Aires. Following the success of this adventure, Jamie decided to dedicate his life to pushing his perceived boundaries. Each adventure he undertakes is designed to challenge him in new ways. His next adventures are a c.4000km cycle from Melbourne to Darwin and a 2200km solo & unsupported run down the length of Madagascar.
Jamie, welcome to Sportside! It’s great to have you onboard… Can you tell your readers a little bit about yourself and your background?
Great to be onboard and can’t wait to be part of the community. I am a British Endurance Adventure Athlete. Essentially, I like doing big multiday adventures in demanding environments as quickly and efficiently as possible. I started doing this back in 2014 when I decided to make a huge change in direction from what I was doing. I had been working in the City for 12 months doing a job that didn’t inspire me. This basically made me unhappy and look for escapes. When I realised my escapes weren’t going to make me happy or fulfilled, I decided to do something about it. I quit my job, flew to Vancouver and ran solo and unsupported to Buenos Aires.
An adventurer in lockdown… I can’t imagine that’s an easy transition to make. How have you been coping with the current situation?
I can’t pretend it isn’t tough but it does present challenges and that is something I relish. I have learnt that the real aspect of this that affects me is the lack of freedom. I can deal with not seeing people, though it is hard, but I do find that dealing with my home being turned from a sanctuary into a prison quite hard. That said, I just have to mentally approach this period as a time to train, plan and prepare for future adventures and make sure I am in the best place possible when things return to a more normal way of life.
Are you managing to keep active?
I am indeed. I don’t think I could handle not being able to train. Luckily, I have a small gym at home and can get outside everyday for some form of exercise. Keeping the discipline and intensity up with nothing concrete to train for is tough but I know from experience that the healthier the mind and the body, the better equipped we are to cope with challenges.
I suspected you might be managing to keep active somehow! Do you have any tips for our readers on ways that they can keep fit at home?
I am finding the using my Garmin watch and its app as a great way to monitor my overall fitness and I use that as a tool to keep my workouts up. I check for active minutes, steps taken, number of activities completed and make sure that this rises each week. Even if it’s just a little, progress feeds motivation. The other thing is don’t be too hard on yourself. If you struggle for a few days, don’t give up, but wipe the slate clean and start again. If you can find a buddy who is about the same fitness then comparing your progress will also help. We can’t exercise together yet but that doesn’t have to take away the community aspect of sport.
Brilliant, I’m sure they’ll put those to good use! How does that compare to your normal training routine?
My normal training schedule is more “on the job” training. I do adventures and they prepare me for the next ones. Before, I was quite unstructured. This period of forced training has taught me the benefits of a more pragmatic approach and the challenge for me is to embrace this change and then incorporate it in my training mentality going forward.
As we’ve already briefly touched on, you are an adventurer by trade. Are you able to tell us when you really started to have a desire to travel and attempt some of the jaw-dropping challenges that we’re going to come onto?
I think there are two answers to this question. There was the gradual build-up of desire to travel and push myself over longer distances but I didn’t back myself and stood on the side-lines watching others doing what I wanted to do, not appreciating why they were able to. Then there was the lightbulb moment. My life looked fine from the outside but internally I was starting to spiral. I was looking for a way to escape and part of that was going out drinking. When I woke up in my office loo, I knew I had to make drastic changes to my life or I would just spiral out of control. I looked at the people in my office and couldn’t find inspiration and then looked at those doing adventures and realised that the only difference was that they were prepared to make the sacrifices and take the risks. I had to become that person.
Now you’ve been involved in some wild escapades over the past couple of years – is it possible for you to pick a highlight?
This is something I think about a lot. I have been so lucky to experience so many things and the way I answer this is by dividing my highlights into each sport. So my running highlight would be running across the Atacama and Andes (4830m) in Chile. My mountaineering highlight would be Aconcagua (6962m), my cycling highlight would be negotiating my way across the flooded Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. And my hiking highlight would be the Hayduke Trail in Utah. If I had to go back and do one of these again, it would probably be wilderness trekking along the Hayduke and I still have about 500km to go!
A few years ago, you ran 17,000 kilometres through the Americas taking in 14 countries and burning your way through 17 pairs of shoes. How long did it take you?!
As an ex-public relations guy… I like to say it took me 367 running days as that sounds the most impressive. But the reality is, I, of course, took days off, had big obstacles to overcome and navigate around, and came back for my sister’s wedding, so, all in all, it took about 500 days! I think this is a good time to point out that I don’t do adventures for records or as first attempts. I do them for the passion I have for those adventures and in the journey to see how far I can push my own boundaries.
How do you go about preparing yourself physically and mentally for a challenge like that? It’s not like you can do a practice run and see how you get on…
I think a lot of people, myself included, can look at a big adventure and get spooked. The trick is to work out what you need to do on a day by day basis and train for that. Once you get started your body and mind will adapt to the repeating it day in and day out. You also have to genuinely want to be there and luckily for me, I extract a lot of pleasure from harsh environments. The more you adventure the more you realise that it’s the hard bits, the days that hurt, that you remember and share with people after. If it isn’t hurting or scaring you then it’s not changing you!
Would you say that was your greatest challenge to date? There can’t be many activities that are more challenging than running the equivalent of 402 marathons in that climate.
I don’t like to spend too much time looking back and missing past adventures. Every adventure is an opportunity to explore the world and test your perceived limitations. You learn from each adventure and then take those experiences and apply them to the next adventure. I am very lucky that I get to choose my adventures so each one is designed to test me in a new way. I have loved all my adventures but I also have a whole list of adventures still to undertake. Always look forward!
You’re a public speaker as well. It must be a great feeling being able to share your experiences with so many people through those forums?
I love and hate public speaking… I get really nervous when it comes to standing in front of an audience but as soon as I start to talk about adventure it becomes a joy. Everyone loves adventure and if one person is inspired to take on a new challenge as a result of something I have done, said or written, then it is all worthwhile! That is the reward, you don’t do this job to make money!
How did you get into public speaking in the first place, did it come as a result of the endurance challenges or vice versa?
My first speaking event was at a running camp. I had just completed Running the Americas and they wanted me to share some stories from the adventure. There was someone in the audience who approached me about sponsorship and then it all snowballed from there. I am hugely appreciative to the fact that everything I have done commercially has been organic and with amazingly supportive people!
And finally, are you able to share any little snippets of what challenges you currently have up your sleeve?
It is very hard to know exactly what I am going to be doing when but I do have a long list of adventures I want to sink my teeth into. I am working on a huge adventure but that is confidential at the moment!!! Amongst the other adventures I have planned, there is completing the final 500km of the Hayduke Trail, wilderness trekking in Nepal, I’d love to swim the Thames or another long river, I need to run the length of Madagascar and I would love to do something on mainland Africa, either running or cycling.
In the immediate, COVID-19 future, I am probably going to direct my attention to hiking and cycling in the Pyrennes.
Jamie, thank you so much for your time. We are thrilled to have you on board and we can’t wait to see what you have planned for the future!