A central New York man who once tipped the scales at 385 pounds has gone from the Boilermaker sidelines to the finish line.

Joe Leonard, or as most know him, Joe Load, has worked at the annual road race for 20 years. This year, he ran it after losing more than 100 pounds.

The ah-ha moment came early last year for Joe. "I looked at a picture of myself and realized I just didn't want to be that person anymore."

Photo provided by Joe Leonard

How'd he do it? Not with gimmicks or surgery. He did it through blood, sweat and tear with diet and exercise. "I lost 32 pounds in the first 3 weeks of my 6 week challenge," says Joe. "I was even named Athlete of the Month for July at Mohawk Valley Wellness Center."

To celebrate his success, Joe decided to take on the Boilermaker. "I was anxious all morning before the race, but once it started I felt pretty good," Joe remembers. "The worst part was that turn on Whitesboro and that big hill."

Just like his weight loss journey, Joe forged on; up the hills and through the calf knots and the muscle cramps "I just kept telling myself I gotta make it to the finish line."

Make it Joe did. "I was relieved I finished without needing any medical assistance," he joked.

All Joe needed was the motivation. Something he's had ever since that fateful day he decided he wanted to be a new person.

Joe is enjoying his new body and life style change. He's already preparing for the next Boilermaker. "My only goal next year will be to beat my time."

If the past year and a half are any indication, any goal Joe sets, he'll surpass with flying colors.

Joe Load - 2019 Boilermaker (credit: Dana Nimey Olney)