A family man first with two young children, Kaitlin and Miles, ultraunner Ronnie Delzer grew up running on the beaches of Emerald Isle, North Carolina as a kid. Only in the past five years has he taken to the ultrarunning scene, finding his niche at the 100-mile distance and dominating most fields he enters; he's the current, and back-to-back, USATF 100-mile Trail Champion. One of the newer members on the Topical Edge Ambassador team, we sat down with Ronnie for a conversation about his first running memory, his ultra aspirations as well as his coaching business and more.
How did you get into sports at a young age?
I remember running at a young age and that was before I played organized sports. My father was an avid marathon runner and President of the North Carolina Road Runners club in the 80’s. We traveled all over to road races with him, and most times there were kid races that we (my sister and I) got to run in. I got into soccer and fell in love with that sport so much that I dreamed of one day being a professional soccer player. I played at a competitive level year round, but eventually hung up the cleats before going off to college. Fortunately I had another door open and I had an opportunity to run cross country collegiately for four years.
Can you describe your first running experience?
One vision I’ll always have of running is at the age of five and running with my father in the neighborhood. We lived on a loop that was a half mile or so that we would both run regularly together. The last 100 meters we would sprint in and I was always in awe at how fast his cadence was. It’s a memory I’ll always cherish and now enjoy running with my son and daughter.
Did you always want to be a professional ultra-runner?
Professional Soccer player yes, but ultra-runner no. I’ve always enjoyed running and loved competing. I was hooked on triathlons for about five years and tried to qualify for Kona World Championships at the time. It became a bit too much for me to balance a full time job, family, and training so I took a break from tri’s. I’m not content with doing nothing and I need challenges in my life. I began running more and more and thought ultra-running would be feasible as I’ve always had really good endurance. I actually did an obstacle course race and it brought back so many wonderful memories of college cross country that I wanted to run more trail races. The longer the distance is where I excel. A few years of consistency and making lots of mistakes is finally paying off.
How did it feel to win the 100-mile Trail Championships recently?
Anything can happen at a hundred miles so pulling off the win and repeating as the National Champion was very special. Although it wasn’t my fastest time I’m satisfied with the result and love the course at Rocky Raccoon 100 in Huntsville, TX. I live within 40 miles from the State Park so I have a home course advantage. I had the lead from the beginning and then hit a rough patch around 30 miles that I had to work through and refocus. It’s not always fun at the moment going through those low points, but it usually means more when you have to persevere through some suffering and not give up. This was also my second hundred miler in 8 weeks and fifth in 12 months so I was very pleased with all that racing.
What other big races do you have on your Calendar?
My primary focus for the year is Badwater-135; referred to as “The World’s Toughest Foot Race”. It’s a 135 miles in the middle of the summer that starts at the Badwater Basin in Death Valley at 280’ below sea level and finishes at 8,300’ at Mt Whitney. It covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ vertical gain. Preparing for this will keep me busy the first half of the year. The second half of the year I’m going to have my sights on the 24-hour US Championships in hopes of qualifying for the Worlds in 2019. I mainly focus on one race at a time so those are the two big ones for this year.
How do you use PR Lotion for training, racing, recovery?
Building up for races I usually have two hard and demanding workouts of 8-10 miles during the week and long runs upwards of 25-30 miles during the weekend. I go into my workouts with the right mindset and know there is specific purpose to each one. On these harder runs and long runs I apply Topical Edge about 15 minutes prior to heading out the door. It’s part of my routine now when I’m getting warmed up. I apply PR Lotion all over my legs, from my calves up to my glutes. Getting the most out of my training is extremely important to me and I like the difference TE has had on my workouts.
The last two hundred milers I’ve won I have used Topical Edge at least twice during the race. The first one I applied before the race and also at the halfway point. The second and most recent hundred miler I applied TE three times (once before the start and twice during). I have also used it following these races and noticing my muscles aren’t as sore and feel much better a lot sooner than ever before. That doesn’t mean I get back to running any sooner after these long races as there is no point to rush back into it. I just know it’s helping me perform better and recovering quicker.
Can you tell us more about your coaching philosophy and business at Vantage Point Endurance?
I’ve enjoyed coaching athletes of all abilities, from 5k up to 100 miles, and in races all over the world. My first objective as a coach is to find out as much as possible about the individual (background, training/racing history, schedule, fitness level, goals, etc). Once I have a big picture of all this I’m able to work with each athlete to make sure we have a carefully thought out plan in place to get from A to B. Each athlete is unique and that’s what I enjoy the most. What works for one person is not necessarily going to work for another, even with similar abilities. I use my education, knowledge, and experience to provide the most optimum training program.
The vision for Vantage Point Endurance came to reality in 2017 as I joined forces with a couple other well respected Triathlon and Running Coaches. These two business partners of mine share the same passion and commitment to helping others reach their fullest potential. We take pride in helping individuals reach their goals and doing so in a healthy manner that allows them to be consistent and as successful as possible. We have grown in size quite a bit in the last year and are very pleased that VPE has become what it has in a short period of time. We now have five top notch coaches.