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How does a 304 pound man finish a 26.2 mile marathon run?

How does a 304 pound man finish a 26.2 mile marathon run?

A powerful story of pain, weight loss and rebirth as told by Skip.

You have to read this story. It is simple and meaningful. It will affect you, or someone you know . . . I promise.

If you weigh 304 pounds then how can you propel yourself down a new road that is full of fear, challenge, pain and unknown? There is only one way. Your mind, your beliefs, and your definition of yourself has to change. The body might falter but the mind is the motor that drives on. The mind is more powerful than the flesh. Someone once told me that the pain of discipline is far easier to endure than the pain of disappointment. This story exemplifies that.

I first saw Skip’s story as it appeared in a local publication put out by a local shop that sells running shoes and promotes running and other outdoor sporting activities. The shop is Bob Ronckers “Running Spot” and they do a nice job of supporting local runners in their pursuit of health. The subject of this story, Skip, had been encouraged to get off the couch and engage in a charity event called “Loveland’s Amazing Race” which is a race that takes place on foot and by bike. He took that challenge and gained a life. Here is Skip’s story:


I would like you to pass this message along to Bob Roncker, the training group coaches and members.  Hopefully by these words you will all understand the impact this group has had on my life.  You have helped me to make radical changes and all I can offer is my gratitude.

You see, less than two years ago I weighed 304 pounds and was heading on a downward spiral of obesity and all of the debilitating conditions associated with it.  I tried everything, including running, but was unable to beat what had become a disease for me.  Truthfully I don’t think it started out as a disease. 

I admit that it was a lack of willpower and self-control on my part.  So, under the guidance of a close friend, in December 2009, I had a gastric banding procedure to hopefully finally tackle my problem head-on.  A small silicone device was implanted on the upper part of the stomach which restricts food intake.  It is just a tool but after I started to shed the weight it lead me to running.  I have lost 107 pounds and am maintaining my weight with the help of the band and running.

That same friend is the one who got me hooked onto running.  We started running in May, 2010, as a way to prepare for the Loveland Amazing Race.  At first I couldn’t even go one mile without stopping.  It was miserable and I vowed to get through the race but never to make running a habit.  We competed in the race and did ok.  But I realized something after that – I was getting kind of good at this running thing. I started getting stronger and faster and low and behold I fell in love with the run.

We trained for and competed in several races over the next several months culminating with the Flying Pig Half Marathon.  I completed it in1:52:51.  We did the first few Dirt Days Trail Series runs – those were wonderful.  And then my friend moved away.  I decided that I had to push forward on my own.  I started dedicating every run to somebody’s needs or to a cause in my heart.  I was overcome with the understanding that I could really affect change in this world just by expending the energy of the run and offering my “blood,” sweat and tears for others.  The thoughts of others are what keep me going.  And I came up with a word, a vision, that I repeat when I’m in the thick of the battle of the run.  It is a Japanese word, “Keizoku,” meaning to continue on or never quit.  I made this tile the day before our first 10-mile Saturday run from Newport.

Frankly, after that run I didn’t think I was going to be able to do a full marathon.  But I stuck with it, often uttering the word “Keizoku” during our training.  I also ran for others’ needs and for all of you. 

I was surprised again to see that I was getting stronger and faster just by following your lead.  Before runs I glanced in the eyes of the group and saw determination.  You all inspired me to continue.  Not very long ago I would drive through O’Bryonville to see a running group on the side of the road.  I didn’t understand it but the sight was awe-inspiring.  I desired whatever it was I saw in those runners of my past.  Now I get it.  Now I understand.  Please don’t underestimate your ability to affect the world and help others change just through the action of your running.  I am living proof.

A few weeks ago near the end of the 22-miler I was running on second street (I think) looking down at the river withNewportin the background.  I knew that I was close to the finish line and I started to remember where I had been just two years prior.  Something like what I was about to accomplish was unthinkable.  I broke down and shed many tears.  I guess I was still hydrated because it was a steady stream until I got on the bridge back toNewport.  Then I knew that my mission was almost complete.  I think I smiled the rest of the way.  I noticed smiling faces on the rest of the group that had finished before me.  Now I get it.  Thank you.

I am attempting the St. Louis Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and am dedicating each mile to a different cause.  As a sign of my gratitude I will dedicate one mile for the Bob Roncker’s Running Spot training group, perhaps the last 1.2, I heard it’s the hardest.  I will be offering up my thoughts and prayers during that mile so that each of you will realize success in your races and for whatever cause(s) you may be championing. 


Milton (Skip) Svetanics

I offer this story as yet another example of someone who chose to take simple actions that completely redefined their existence. We are only who we are based on the daily choices we make. On any given day we all possess the ability and the power to move in a new direction. If you want to move in a weight loss direction then see the numerous weight loss articles on this website that will offer you guidance: (Use the “search” feature in the upper right to locate these and other fine articles.)

  • Diet & Exercise But Still Can’t Lose Weight?  5 Possible Reasons Why
  • Why Can’t Lisa Lose Weight?  Part 1 and Part 2
  • The Ultimate Breakfast May Cause You To Lose Weight
  • What MakesHolidayWeight Gain 51% Worse
  • Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat
  • Eating Downhill
  • Your Body the Machine. Changing Perspectives. (exercise)
  • Eat Christmas Cookies . . . Lose Weight
  • Once Morbidly Obese, Now Free Fitness trainer

As a final note, Skip chose to have lap band surgery and that option worked for him. I personally know others who had similar surgery and did not have a good result because they were never taught “how to eat”. They simply kept eating the same bad foods that got them heavy in the first place. Skip’s story has a great message because his lap band was simply step one in a series on continuous self-improvement steps that included lifestyle changes, better diet, and exercise. You don’t need a lap band to win.

Skip has asked me specifically to acknowledge his surgeon Dr. John Mobley who was kind and genuine in his treatment of Skip. It was Dr. Mobley that encouraged Skip to start running and to change his lifestyle and diet.


[5 Comments]  [5 Comments] 


5 Responses to “How does a 304 pound man finish a 26.2 mile marathon run?”
  1. Debra Sury says:

    This is such an inspiring story. Thank for sharing. I would also like to share your story with a few close friends. You’re doing great! What an accomplishment.

    Happy New Year!!!

  2. Skip Svetanics says:

    Dr. Huber,
    Thank you for posting this on your blog. Tonight is the eve of the second anniversary of my gastric banding surgery. I remember clearly the two weeks leading up to the surgery. I was restricted to 800 calories/day, liquids only. I was very nervous but knew that the next day would mark the first day of the rest of my life.
    You are correct that you don’t need gastric banding to win. And it is definitely not the “easy way out” either. God gives us life tools and it is our responsibility to discern and use them in order to live our lives to our full potential.
    Happy New Year,
    Skip Svetanics

  3. Joren 'Big Dog' Dickerson says:

    December 2010, I was 350 pounds when I started training with Team in Training to run the 2011 Cincinnati Flying Pig Full Marathon. By race time, I had dropped to 330, and lost 8 inches on my hips; I completed in 6:37:22. When I thought of just giving up, I would see our TEAM members cheering for me and I remember folks I met through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

    Having enjoyed the friendships made and knowing I was helping patients with blood cancers live better, longer lives, I signed on for the 2011 Columbus Half Marathon. I now was 320 pounds and planning my next full marathons.

    On November 18, 2011, I tore my medial collateral ligament (MCL). My hopes of improving my time at the Flying Pig has diminished .My eating habits has continued but with no running workouts I have balloned up to 345. I have been going through phsyical therapy to alleviate pain from walking long distance.

    I have been at the stage of BLAHH. Not doing anything that may cause me to reinjure myself or cause further discomfort. Until I read your story. Inspiration comes in many forms. And although I did not have the lap band or any surgeries for my weight, I’m inspiried to have the want to get back out there. And the key to this is the foods I choose to eat.

    Maybe one day I will meet you on a course. Along with my purple Team in Training shirt, I wear underwear on the outside that says “Dont follow me, I just Farted a Big One.”

    Thanks for sharing your story…

    • Dr. Huber says:

      I was just reviewing the site and came across your comment. What struck me is that even without exercise, good nutrition should lead to weight loss. If you are still struggling with your weight battle then perhaps metabolic factors such as hormone imbalance, thyroid, or insulin resistance are getting in the way. If you need help then contact my office for a plan to move forward.

      It is my sincere hope that you have already discovered a path that worked for you and that this reply from me is unnecessary.

      Take care,
      Dr. Huber

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