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After losing 200 pounds, bus driver completes SLO Marathon

James Lacher, a 46-year-old San Luis Obispo bus driver, crosses the finish line at the San Luis Obispo Marathon on Sunday, April 29, 2018, four years after weighing more than 400 pounds.
James Lacher, a 46-year-old San Luis Obispo bus driver, crosses the finish line at the San Luis Obispo Marathon on Sunday, April 29, 2018, four years after weighing more than 400 pounds. tgibson@thetribunenews.com

San Luis Obispo bus driver James Lacher completed his first-ever marathon Sunday, just four years after weighing more than 400 pounds.

Lacher navigated the course in 5:24:19, but he was never worried about his time, it was all about the journey.

“I did it! I feel better than I thought I would,” Lacher said shortly after crossing the finish line. “Luckily, none of the worst-case scenarios happened out there.”

Lacher, 46, was greeted at the finish line by his friends and girlfriend. Most were wearing “Team James” T-shirts to support their friend, who shared his story with The Tribune this week.

“I feel like Sally Field when she won the Oscar. You like me, you really like me!” Lacher said.

Cal Poly runner Landon Woollard won the men's race with a time of 2:40:40.

A remarkable transformation

After topping out at 403 pounds and wearing a size 4X shirt and size 60 pants, Lacher underwent a sleeve gastrectomy procedure in March 2015. It involved removing about 80 percent of his stomach, shrinking it from the size of a football to the size of a banana.

He lost 165 pounds the first year after his surgery and then began running to help keep off the weight. Lacher now wears medium work shirts, size 36 pants and weighs 195 pounds.

He ran his first 5K in February 2017.

“(At my first 5K) the people that were coming in at 40, 45 minutes, an hour, those were the people getting the biggest cheers because those were the people who were struggling the most," Lacher said. "I thought, this is a great community that I want to be a part of.”

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