As an Endurance Adventurer Jamie Ramsay has covered thousands of miles. Here he tells us why he made such a drastic career choice and what drives him.
Being a British Endurance Adventurer is a "job" I have only had for a few years as before that I worked for an international PR agency. I felt unfulfilled by that career and sought something more aligned to my passions that would challenge me in a way that I could grow and develop rather than fester and stagnate.
My first adventure was in 2013 and was a 240km run through Vietnam. This was meant to be an organised race but it was cancelled and my only option was to go solo and unsupported. This ignited a fire in me and the following year I quit my career, despite being recently made a partner, and set off on a solo and unsupported run from Canada to Argentina. This adventure was 17,000km long, across two continents and through 14 countries. It took me 367 days of running and I wore through 17 pairs of shoes. Since then I have completed 16 other adventures and right now, I am attempting to complete my challenge of finishing seven adventures in seven continents.
When things get tough, I simply sit down and remember the life I used to live, that’s all I need to get back up again.
When not adventuring I spend my time talking about the adventures I have done or planning the adventures I want to take on. It is an all-consuming life in the pursuit of pushing personal boundaries.
I often get asked why I do what I do, which is a tricky question with many layers to the answer; but at least with the kind of challenges I take on, I’ve got time to think of the answers.
The idealistic part of me acknowledges that I love doing what I do because of the places I visit, the people I meet and the cultures I interact with. I am able to choose where I go and how to push my personal limits while discovering new things about what I am capable of. I hope that when I complete an adventure and talk about it online or at events it might ignite a flame in other people and give them the push needed to pursue their own adventures.
But there is also a darker side to the endurance aspect of my adventures. Due to Instagram, YouTube etc., we only see the glossy aspect of adventuring and less of the hidden motivation. The more I adventure, the more I realise there is a deeper, potentially sadder aspect to what drives me.
My decision to start adventuring wasn't the result of being happy and fulfilled with life but because I was sad, lost and spiralling. Adventuring provided me with a positive and productive way to turn that negativity around. After five years of pushing my mind and body I have realised that I am like a coal power station. I mine deep for all the negatives I feel and then turn them into positive energy and determination to succeed.
The biggest motivator I have to continue is remembering the decision I made back in 2014. I didn't want to be a person that lives a life without passion or satisfaction. I use that decision when I find myself at a point where things are scary, difficult or quitting seeps into my mind. When I am struggling, I find somewhere to sit and tell myself that I made the decision to be where I am and I can either get up and carry on or give up and return to a life I hated.
The more I adventure, the more I realise there is a deeper, potentially sadder aspect to what drives me.
Another misconception is that those who adventure are instantly happy. This is often not the case. Adventuring is a life of highs and lows and like a drug the highs need to get bigger to give the satisfaction and as a result the lows become deeper. My job is to manage that ebb and flow and find productive ways to continue what I do.
While this may all sound a little darker than expected there is great joy in what I do. I derive a lot of pleasure and sense of purpose from my life. An existence of Solo Endurance Adventuring means a life of pushing yourself to places where it hurts and where you need to endure. Perversely, I derive a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction from that process and this is a life I chose and relish.
Adventure has become part of my DNA to the extent that I now need to keep it in my life in some shape or form. Right now I have managed to engineer a life where I get to adventure and I can sustain that lifestyle but I am very aware that circumstances can change and there needs to be a back-up plan.
My initial move into adventuring was to escape the confines of a life behind a desk and discover a life driven by passion. The more I have been pursuing that goal the more I have realised that there is probably a balance somewhere in the middle where conventional work and passion can form a lifestyle that delivers fulfilment and builds a financial plan for the future.
In the immediate future my plans are to run across things, cycle through places and climb up things. In the medium term I want to find an enterprise or business that I can work with that either helps people pursue their dreams or introduces people to the world of adventure. The more the world centralises on cities and lives vicariously through screens, the more there is going to be a need for escape both physically and mentally.
Jamie is a brand ambassador for JM Finn and tirelessly supports The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), an award-winning charity dedicated to preventing male suicide, the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. To read more about Jamie’s adventures visit www.jamieramsay.net