Running for health

February 23, 2016

By Jan Jarvis



When Seth Willmoth started running in the summer of 2014 he weighed 340 pounds and could barely walk around the block.

“It hurt like all get out,” he said. “But I just kept pushing through the pain.”

Now 130 pounds lighter with thousands of miles under his belt, Willmoth, Assistant Director of Maintenance at UNT Health Science Center, is planning to do what was once unimaginable for him: Run in the Cowtown Marathon on Sunday.

It’s been nearly a year since Willmoth trudged through freezing temperatures and icy streets to finish the Cowtown Half Marathon while his family cheered him on.

“When I crossed the finish line I felt all this emotion,” he said. “But as soon as it was done, I started thinking, ‘What next?’”

His answer was immediate. He decided to run 12 half-marathons in 12 months.

Over the next year he ran through the rose gardens of Tyler, the Design District of Dallas and on the asphalt roads of Denton. Ten days after his daughter’s birth in June, he ran a half-marathon in Fort Worth. In January he ran two, including a Mansfield run where he took third place in his age group.

He whittled his weight down to 210 on his 5-foot-11-inch frame.

It’s still hard for him to believe that he once weighed as much as 378 pounds and was a junk food junkie. He opted against weight-loss surgery and instead decided to participate in Team Lose It, a UNTHSC exercise and nutrition program for employees with a body mass index of 32 and up. Soon he was trading pizza and chili dogs for baked fish and fruit.

Now he runs five times a week, typically totally 35 miles. His wife, Tamara, a physician assistant and UNTHSC alum, often joins him.

Although he fully embraces a healthy lifestyle he has never forgotten what it was like when he first started his weight-loss journey.

“I’m still scared of flipping back to my old self,” he said, “I guess that fear is what motivates me to reach the finish line.”

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