Name: John Ramsey
Profession: Home School Teacher; Stay-at-Home Dad
Runner Since: 1978
I went to high school in Danville, California, with John. Go Wolves! John is affiliated with a particular race (Devil Mountain Run, 10K) that has eluded me as long as I’ve been running, and he has been diligently poking and prodding me to get off the couch and get there. It’s not a particularly long or challenging course, but it’s nostalgic for us, since it takes place in our old stomping grounds. And get this; John has run every single D.M.R race since it started back in ’78 – once, with broken ribs. What a streak!
1. Every runner has a “WHY.” Why did you start running? I was a 17-year-old junior in high school, working at a locally-owned restaurant in Danville. The owner, Tom Beck, had just become a runner. Danville’s Devil Mountain Run was founded that same year to raise money for Children’s Hospital, which it continued to do until 2011. Beck signed the restaurant up as a sponsor and asked the employees to run in the race. I took on the challenge. We were so unprepared to run but we were young and finished the race in fairly decent time.
2. What pushes you to keep going? I want to stay in decent physical shape so running is a joy and not an agony. I find that three moderate runs a week make every run feel easy. Another reason is, I want to continue to run the Devil Mountain Run every year. And finally, get my time for that race below 50 minutes again.
3. What is your running/fitness routine for a typical week? Every Tuesday, I have a track workout with my running club. On Thursdays, it’s four miles with a small group from the running club or by myself on running trails, while I wait for my daughter to finish ballet class. Saturdays, I run about four miles on a paved, off-road running trail.
4. What is your favorite distance to run? Why? Honestly, it’s 200 meters. I love the speed and I’m still fast at short distances. For regular jogs I think four miles is the right balance for me. For races, I prefer 10Ks, long and challenging enough to be worth paying an entry fee, but not so long that it requires excessive training.
5. Best running memory? Completing my second marathon — the 1983 San Francisco Marathon — in 3:06.
6. Trail, track or road? All three! Trail for safety (from traffic); track for speed; road when I’m running with a group.
7. What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on a run? My craziest memory happened during my 1992 trek out to California for the Devil Mountain Run. I flew in to SFO and drove my car rental to Candlestick Park to see the Giants play. I made a big mistake by parking a hatchback with a suitcase in plain view, in the local neighborhood. I got back to the car to find a broken window and no suitcase. My running shoes, a collection of my Devil Mountain Run T-shirts and my other clothes were all gone. I was so upset, I drove around the area — I guess to see if someone had thrown the stuff aside after not finding valuables in the suitcase. Instead, I saw a guy wearing my shoes and one of my Devil Mountain Run shirts. He told me, he got them from a friend and said he would go get his friend while I waited. After waiting for a few minutes, I reconsidered as I thought that this might become a very dangerous situation, and left. What I didn’t realize at the time was this was the same day of the Rodney King verdict and then the L.A. riots. As for the race, I chose to borrow a friend’s running shoes, 1/2-size too small. My feet were blistered and bloodied by the time I finished the 1992 Devil Mountain Run.
8. Do you race for the medals or the memories? There are too many guys my age who are still fast, so I don’t get medals. But I now race to improve my time, so I guess it’s for the memories and the challenge.
9. What is your worst running moment? My worst was also my most disappointing. It was the 1984 SF Marathon, where I was on pace for a Boston qualifying 2:50 marathon at 13.1 miles. I ended up with a 3:20 as I ran out of energy; struggled and walked just to finish the race. This was back before energy gels or bars became good practice for long distance races and we were advised to drink nothing but water. That was the last of my three marathons.
10. Give your younger self some advice about running. If talking to my high school self, it would be to try out for the track or cross country team. After high school, I would say, join a running club and go on regular group runs.
How do you connect with other runners or runner communities? My local running club, the Prince George’s Running Club. We get together at the track at the University of Maryland, College Park, on Tuesday evenings to talk about latest running accomplishments before we do the workout. Facebook postings keep me aware of what my running friends are up to as well. I like athlinks.com to keep track of my racing results and those of my friends.
Do you have a website or blog? My Devil Mountain Run history page is at DevilMountainRun.net
Editor's note: Photo, courtesy John Ramsey