When I first emailed Bob Page, one of the broadcast engineers working at Universal Orlando Resort’s Radio Broadcast Center, about the possibility of talking to him about Running Universal’s Epic Character 5K and 10K races, he responded with:
Of course…. I’d be happy to do whatever… pretty excited that two of my favorite worlds are colliding!!!
You wouldn’t guess it by looking at the Bob of today, but growing up in Connecticut, he was your standard gets-picked-last-in-sports kid.
He had always had an interest in doing radio some day, but it felt like a pipe dream. When he moved to Florida in 1991, Bob applied for a job at another theme park and was told there weren’t any costumes that would fit him.
“I was well over 300 pounds at the time,” Bob explains. “And so that hurt, it stung. I drove up the street and applied here and was hired in security. It was 1991, so the broadcast center at that point didn’t even exist, it was just a facade.”
By ‘94, the Radio Broadcast Center had been established and Bob had landed a weekend gig that eventually led to his current role overseeing the 400 or so different radio shows produced from our two in-park studios.
“One of my favorite things about working here happens at the end of every day,” Bob says. “The broadcast center sits in the theme park, so when I head home after work, I get to walk through the park. I see families completely enjoying themselves and smiling together. This is a place that brings people together and I get to be a part of that.”
The people closest to Bob would tell you that, for a majority of his life, he was more likely to be found on a couch than a running trail (and he definitely wasn’t the sneaker enthusiast that he is today). In many ways, Bob found himself using food as a salve to his problems. Bad days were remedied with a binge, vacations were planned around food, and Bob’s activity level was extremely low.
“I didn’t ever do anything,” Bob says. “I was just tired all the time.”
It wasn’t until a doctor’s appointment right before his fiftieth birthday that Bob received the news that would change his life.
Weighing in at 320 pounds at the time, Bob heard his doctor say it point-blank: “If you don’t change your ways, you will die young.”
“That struck a pretty good chord,” Bob says. “I felt like I had a very good life — a happy family, two daughters, three grandkids —and I just felt like I was in a good and happy place and I didn’t want any of it to end early.”
For Bob, this moment in the doctor’s office was an absolute epiphany moment. He knew it was time to make a change and he had a feeling he knew how he was going to make it.
“It was anything but as simple as it sounds, but it literally came down to eating less and moving more,” Bob explains.
At the time, Bob’s family had a trip planned to Ireland and he knew he’d have two options on that trip: walk a lot and experience all the sights with his family, or take his usual route and sit out on activities. Prior to the trip, Bob committed to walk a mile every day, which helped dramatically prepare him for the family’s time in Ireland. Returning home, Bob had lost some weight already and realized he was not only capable of change, but if he really committed he could make a drastic one in his life.
“I decided I would walk a 5K every day,” he says. “It took me about six months to run my first one all the way through, and then once I ran it the first time I was like, ‘well, if you can run it once you can do that every single time. You don’t walk anymore; now you run.’”
For 580 consecutive days, Bob ran a 5K. He never missed a day. He lost 150 pounds.
That first streak caused an entire momentum-shift in his life. He started posting his fitness story on social media in an effort to motivate others and he still runs 5-6 days a week.
Bob says that while it was never easy, he always felt committed.
“You have to commit to the end result,” he says. “This is not something you can do for six months, lose some weight, and then everything is going to be fine. It really does have to be a life change.”
With Running Universal coming up, Bob is looking forward to the event that he describes as “two of my favorite things clashing together.”
His advice for beginners?
“Make sure you have good shoes and remember any movement is good movement. You have to start somewhere, so if you want to come out and walk and enjoy the characters and the event — do that. It’s impressive and amazing to take that step.”
And as for you avid runners, Bob — who got a sneak-peak at the medals — wants you to know they’ll look great with your collection.
“For runners, medals are very important and these look so, so cool.”
In some ways, Bob wishes to a degree that he had prioritized his health sooner, but he aims to live his life without regret and to just keep up with what he started with that first of 580+ 5Ks.
“Changing used to feel insurmountable,” he says. “I was one of those people who didn’t fit on any of our rides and now I’m making plans to run the theme park. Running has helped me tremendously physically, but also mentally. Running is my therapy.”