My college roommate from Minnesota recently paid me a visit in San Diego/Tijuana. It was his first time in California, so it was my responsibility to show off the amazing beer we have. My friend Kimby was also showing an outsider the bars, so we decided to barhop together.
This is how I met Jamie Ramsay, a 35-year-old adventurer from Edinburgh, Scotland. Ramsay made it to San Diego on foot, after running with a baby stroller all the way from Vancouver. It took him 80 days to run across America; he rested for 16 of them, and 4 of those rest days were spent in San Diego.
I hosted Ramsay in Tijuana after he completed his last day of running in the U.S.
"I could have made it across the U.S.A. in 76 days, but I was already ahead of schedule so I decided to take some rest and celebrate my run."
Ramsay is not your conventional runner, as he tells me his story while drinking a large IPA.
"I was in cross country in prep school. Then, in 2004, I started doing marathons again.... I have done a big event every year." Ramsay sports an unkempt beard and long hair ,which he keeps under a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. baseball cap. Like Forrest Gump, he plans to run and not shave or cut his hair.
"I was going to do six marathons in six days for a race in Vietnam in 2013, but it got canceled. I bought my plane ticket and my equipment so I decided to do it by myself. At the end of that, I was, like, that was good fun. The only way to justify quitting my financial communications job was to do something massive, but they very kindly gave me a two-year sabbatical."
Ramsay pushes a Thule baby stroller designed for running with all his stuff inside and a sign on the side that reads, “Baby NOT on board.” "People offer me rides all the time, but I have to deny them. I am amazed at the kindness of Americans; they are always supportive, honking along the way and asking if I need help. In Vietnam, they didn't understand why I was running and insisted on giving me a ride."
Ramsay runs an average of 27 miles per day but still manages to have a small gut.
"I eat what I want when I want: burgers, beer, crisps, anything! When I started I went through a bagel phase, then ice cream. For a while I was drinking those big iced teas until I realized they are all sugar. It keeps me moving, to eat a new meal, to experience something different."
The press has paid little attention to him, but he has managed to raise $10,000 for the three charities for which he is running. "My target is to raise 20,000 pounds for the charities I chose: Macmillan Cancer [Support], because there is a huge chance someone you know will die from this horrible disease; WaterAid, for clean water, a huge issue for everyone; and the support line for suicidal men [CALM — Campaign Against Living Miserably]. There's the stigma that men can't ask for help and the stress can end up killing them. No one should be ashamed to ask for help, I sure do need it for this trip."
The charities are emblazoned on his baby stroller and all over his web page. "I have been in some local newspapers. The London Times asked for an exclusive interview, but they never published it. I was on TV in San Diego...Channel 6. I had the first person to recognize me [from] TV — got my picture taken while I was buying a new pair of trainers in the mall [Plaza Las Americas].” Ramsay buys a new pair of running shoes every month.
"I haven't encountered many problems…six punctured tires, three which happened in this last run. The third day I had a problem with Achilles heel, but I quickly recovered. Besides that, I had a problem with raccoons who broke into my tent and stole my food in Walla Walla."
Ramsay says cops haven’t bothered him much, though at times he runs where pedestrians are not allowed.
"I encountered a cop that was being a real jerk for no reason. He told me to get closer to the shoulder, though the road was practically empty and cars have no problem passing me by. Then there was this time I was going to cross the Astoria-Megler Bridge [between Oregon and Washington], which doesn't allow pedestrians. So I put a headlight on my hat, one in my back, and pretended to be a bicycle.
“A cop stopped me and I told him what I was doing. He told me he wanted to make sure I went across safely and escorted me with his cop car. If I didn't cross the bridge, it would have been a 35-mile run to go around it."
Ramsay completed what he says is “stage 1,” which he considers his training. "I did America in 80 days, it was easy mode. I speak the language and the roads are there. I am excited for an actual challenge, staying in the middle of nowhere, not knowing the language, different food, different terrain, shittier roads, government not that supportive, but hopefully my Spanish picks up."
Stage 2 is through Mexico and Central America in 180 days. He will fly from Panama to France for his sister's wedding and then back to South America, where he will complete stage 3 from Colombia to Buenos Aires.
Ramsay left my apartment early on the morning of November 4th and ran to Km. 38 (past Rosarito). He emailed me the next day to give me thanks and tell me he was all right and well on his way.
Find out more about Jamie Ramsay on his web page.