How did you go about setting up the first expedition of running the Americas?
Running the Americas was my first proper adventure. I had taken part in marathons around safari parks and a multiday run in Vietnam but nothing on this scale. This particular adventure was a positive reaction to the realisation about how unfulfilled I was in my current employment and life style. Having that as the reason made it very easy to stay true to my ambition. The first step of setting up the expedition was deciding exactly what I was going to do. I knew I wanted to be away for a least a year and I wanted to put running at the heart of whatever I chose. I made the assumption I could run 30km a day and multiplied it by 356 and it came to just shy of 11,000km. I then took to a map and started looking for potential routes. After I made the call that running around the world or through Africa might be a bit daunting for a first time adventurer, I found Vancouver to Buenos Aires. A 17,000km solo and unsupported run through 14 countries and over two continents.
How did you approach sponsors – After all you still have to earn a living.
As this was my first time doing anything of significant scale it was hard to know what to do when it came to sponsors. Financially, I had enough money to at least start the expedition and run to Panama. So I focussed on kit sponsors first believing that if I was proving to be successful then sponsors would be more willing to get involved. Thule was the first company to help and they provided a running stroller. Then Vango provided camping equipment with Powertraveller donating batteries and solar panels. Friends also rallied behind me and put me forward and soon I had Microsoft supply some financial support and a telephone and later down the line adidas, Karrimor and Nike would give generous amounts of running kit.
How difficult was it to plan your route and what obstacles did you have to overcome?
Planning the route was pretty easy. As I was going to be road bound due to the running stroller I went onto google maps and planned the route from Vancouver to Panama City and the then from Northern Colombia to Buenos Aires. Sometimes I would look for shortcuts and on occasion I would try and extend the route to include iconic roads such as Route 1 and Route 101 in the US and most of Baja California in Mexico. During this process a number of obstacles were identified including crossing the Andes at an altitude of 4830m (higher than Mont Blanc), the Atacama Desert and navigating may way around the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama. I realised that all these big challenges were in the second half of my journey and decided than rather than worry about them I should use the first 10,000km to prepare myself and gain the needed skills to overcome them. I knew the runner starting didn’t have the skills but I was determined to have them when I arrived at them in the months to come. An obstacle or challenge is not a reason not to start, it’s a reason to develop your skills and therefore grow as an adventurer.
What were your favourite and worst moments of that first expedition?
I was on the road for over 15 months with over 367 days of running – it is hard to single out specific moments… But one thing that really hit me during this expedition is that not one human being tried to do anything negative towards me and the support I received was overwhelming. The other thing that became apparent is that all the obstacles that could have become excuses not to start were all highlights of the expedition and that must be down to the fact that I had to grow personally to overcome them. Very few feelings will reach that of running 60km a day at over 4000m altitude and camping on a landscape that resembles Mars. At the moment I am writing my book about this expedition and I am really enjoying all the little experiences that all come together to make the expedition as a whole so special.
Obviously you enjoyed it because you went on to complete more expeditions – Do you have a favourite expedition after the first?
My adventures are chosen purely because I have a personal passion to undertake them and they will challenge me. I am not about records or firsts, its about developing skills and experiencing new things that make you a better version of yourself. Therefore, it is hard to make one more special than another. Each one has its own attribute that I hold special. When cycling across south America I got to cross the Salar de Uyuni while it was flooded. It was one of the most special things I have ever done. When in Mongolia with fellow British Adventurer Karl Bushby, I got to experience an expedition with ten Bactrian camels and the astonishing kindness of the Mongolian people. Now I am planning new expeditions and I am drawing from everything I have learnt to create the next expedition which will become another favourite.
Do you plan your expeditions with sponsors in mind or is it plan the expedition then look for sponsors?
I have been very fortunate to work with companies (Land Rover Explore, Gore, Powertraveller, Vango) who want to support me on my adventures and this allows me to do everything with genuine passion and nothing contrived. The more we work together, the more our goals become aligned. I think the key is to create a partnership rather than see it as sponsorship.
HOw long does it take to plan an expedition?
Really depends on what the adventure is. If you were planning something to the Antarctic or up Everest then there are huge logistical and safety issues that need to be properly considered. This is not normally the case for my adventures. I normally come up with where I am going to start and finish and then get the appropriate kit and then just start. If you over plan an adventure then it’s not really an adventure. When I cycled across South America all I knew, was that I had 30 days to cover 3,700km the rest was done on a day by day basis. On Running the Americas I tried not to plan more than a couple of days ahead. If you are doing running or cycling then being over prescriptive can either limit or overextend you and that isn’t the best way to approach an adventure.
Do you enjoy giving talks about your adventures?
I love sharing the adventures I have had the good fortune to experience. I came from a city job background and I like to think that sharing these stories may just empower someone to take that big leap and go on that adventure they have always dreamed of. I also like drawing the parallels between a successful adventure and being successful in business. I had to learn a lot and in doing so realised that a lot of what it takes to be an adventurer applied directly back to my career in the city.
Do you like handing out tips of the trade to people who come to hear you speak?
That is the whole reason I do the talks. Before I started I needed to get help and advice from people who had successfully managed to organise and complete an adventure. If I can help someone overcome the obstacle that stands between them and realising their dream then everything is worth it. I love hearing from people who say they did something because they were inspired by what I did, it gives me more motivation to continue doing more.
Jamie Ramsay adventure CV
I was born in Edinburgh, Schooled in Scotland, Oxford Brookes University and then 12 years at International communications consultancy. My adventure career started in August 2014 after I quit my career to follow a more passion fuelled life inspired by the great outdoors. I see myself as an Endurance Adventure Athlete and by that I mean I like to go long distances, in harsh or beautiful environments as effectively and efficiently as possible. When I conceive an idea I want it to cross into the realm where people question whether it is possible. I also want to be continually developing my skills and learning new adventure skills and interacting with other outdoor enthusiasts. In the last four years, I have adventured over 24,000km in 25 different countries.
- 17,000km solo & unsupported run from Canada to Argentina
- 700km solo & unsupported record for running the entire three peaks
- 430km solo & unsupported Scottish Isles run
- 3rd place in 400km The Cape Wrath Ultra (as a GORE Wear athlete)
- 370km trek with 10 camels in Mongolian winter
- 265km Transalpine Run 2017 (as part of the GORE Wear team)
- 237km Towpath Challenge to The National Running Show
- Completed 135km in the Mizuno Endure24 2017 as part of a pair
- Guest presenter on The Wine Show (Channel 5)
- TEDx speaker at Edinburgh University 2018
- Scottish Adventurer of the Year 2016
- GORE Wear Ambassador
- Powertraveller Ambassador
- Land Rover Explore Ambassador
- Raise money & Awareness for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
- Presenting DofE awards on behalf of HRH the Duke of Wessex at St James’s palace & Buckingham Palace
- YouTube, Instagram, Facebook & Twitter: @Jamieisrunning