Gregg Ellis is a man that I just so happened to meet at a campfire late into the Georgia Jewel festivities while I was waiting for my brother to come into the aid station (approx mile 87 point for my brother. 17 to go). Rachel (my sister in law) quickly engaged him in conversation and he had some incredible things to say. I decided try and find him to feature him and allow others to hear his amazing story!
1. How long have you been running?
Been running 4.5 years, the week I got clean from drugs and alcohol (and cigarettes)
2. What got you into ultra-marathons?
I missed qualifying for Boston by a mere 14 seconds. Was heartbroken. Ended up in the ER severely dehydrated needing 3 bags of fluid. I decided to give ultras a try. You can go slower in those lol. I placed 2nd place overall in my very first ultra and realized that I was pretty good at it. It was Long Cane 55 miler a few years back in SC.
3. Tell me about the hip replacement and your journey back into running.
I was diagnosed with AVN (avascular necrosis) in my left hip end of last year and told I needed a hip replacement. I was devastated and decided to keep running on it anyway. It went from stage I to stage 4 in 3 months. It got to where I couldn’t even walk w/o limping. I decided to have hip replacement on May 15th of this year. Yesterday was 20 weeks since my surgery. I’m running again and deadset on getting back into ultras.
4. How did you find out about the hiprunner.com community? Tell us a little bit about it.
Found hiprunner.com from googling all about runners who have had hip replacements. There are currently about 30 of us on the site from all over the world who have decided that hip replacement isn’t going to keep us from running. It’s a very inspirational site.
5. Tell me about your 17mi adventure on the Georgia Jewel 35mi course with your girlfriend. Did you struggle with the hip at all? How did you feel afterwards?
I signed my gf Sandie and myself up for Georgia Jewel 35 miler months ago hoping that my hip would be healed enough to run it. But it wasn’t. I had planned on helping her get to the finishline (it was her first ultra) but I had a setback in my hip recovery. I had to go about 3 weeks with no running and couldn’t run the race with her. I gave my bib to her brother who had never ran an ultra either (or even a 5k!! Lol) He made it halfway so I jumped in and got her to the finishline 17.5 miles later! My hip held up great. A little sore that’s all.
6. What is your favorite post race meal?
7. Give me a random fact or two about yourself.
I was a punter on the 1990 National Championship Football team Georgia Tech. They used to call me Gregg the leg! 🙂
8. What keeps you motivated? Who is your role model/hero?
I stay motivated. I love doing things people say I can’t do. I refuse to settle for ordinary. I wake up each morning planning on doing something special. I have an intense flame that burns in me that will not allow me to give up. I’m not a naturally gifted runner but I will not stop. I keep going even after every muscle and every fiber in my brain is yelling at me to stop. I get off on challenges. Terry Fox, the Canadian runner with a prosthetic leg, who attempted to run across Canada for cancer inspires me. I’ve watched his documentary over and over.
9. What advice do you have for others that have physical obstacles to overcome?
Advice I would give is to never set limits on yourself and do not let listen to everyone else. If I listened to everyone than I wouldn’t be running again. Blaze your own trail. Life is way too short. Be yourself, be different and never settle for mediocrity.
10. Tell me about some upcoming events and goals you have.
I have huge dreams. I plan on beating Dean Karnazes’ 211 miles he did on a treadmill in 48 hours a few years back. He did it on the set of Kelly and Regis. Im gonna do it next July in a fundraiser** we always do. I’m also running Umstead 100 in April. One hip, 2 hips….it doesn’t matter to me. I’ll get it done.
**Links to articles regarding this fundraiser in the past.
Gregg also has a FB page https://www.facebook.com/NorthGeorgiaRunner