Q&A: Jamie Ramsay

In August 2014, Jamie Ramsay set off to run solo and unsupported from Vancouver to Buenos Aires. Fourteen countries, 17,000km, 17 pairs of shoes and 367 running days later, he reached the Argentine capital. The 36-year-old Scot has raised more than £18,000 for charity.

Why did you do it?

After 12 years sitting at a desk I found myself asking: what am I doing? So I decided to plan something epic that justified quitting my job.

And why Canada to South America?

Once I had calculated how many miles I could run in a year, I started looking at possible routes. Going round the world wasn’t possible – too many languages, visas and the odd war zone. Running to South Africa was dogged by the same problems. Then someone suggested Canada to Buenos Aires: two languages, relatively safe and all on a UK passport.

How long did it take to prepare?

People assume that planning such an expedition involves a huge logistical workload, but it’s not the case. Once you have the right equipment and a good level of fitness [Jamie had a few marathons under his belt], it’s just about getting out there and hitting the road. You never know how far you can run in a day, so planned stops don’t really work. It’s very freeing just to run and finish where you finish.

What did you take with you?

I used a running stroller that contained everything I needed. I had a tent and sleeping bag, a cooker, clothes, food and water. In North America I camped most nights, but through Central and South America I mostly used cheap hostels.

What weather did you encounter?

I was fortunate that on the whole expedition it rained less than 20 days. But in Central America, the humidity was sometimes unbearable, while in Argentina I faced temperatures of 45°C – I was drinking six litres of water a day. At the other extreme, it was -10°C when I was crossing the Andes.

How did you fuel yourself?

My normal daily menu would be porridge in the morning, pasta and tuna in the evening and then whatever I could find during the day. Raw sugar cane, lots of fruit, ceviche, biscuits, ice cream – even iguana, once!

How did your body hold up?

On day three I had an Achilles problem and feared the whole expedition was in jeopardy. Luckily, the pain subsided. The biggest problem came from bladder infections caused by dehydration and drinking bad water.

What were the low points?

I quickly learned not to let low points dictate how I felt. When I felt overwhelmed, I would just stop, think about what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing this and remember how lucky I was.

What were the highlights?

It is hard to pick out a particular moment. From a physical point of view, running across the Atacama Desert and then going up and over The Andes was a huge personal achievement.

What’s with the teddy bear?

I found Carlos stuck in a tree in Baja California, in Mexico. I rescued him, named him after my brother Charles, and he was my companion for the rest of the expedition.

How did you celebrate finishing?

My celebration was the last stage in London. I flew back from Buenos Aires, was met by friends at Heathrow and we all jogged into central London, picking up other runners up along the way.

What’s next?

I am planning a couple of challenges. If the expedition taught me anything it is that we can achieve more than we think.


Jamie is fundraising for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), which works to reduce the incidence of male suicide; Macmillan Cancer Support; and WaterAid. Visit jamieisrunning.com.