By Ken Gillespie

Where were you at 4 a.m. this morning? Most likely in the sack. Not so with Ryan Dexter. The alarm clock’s bell signals the start of his weekday schedule (6 a.m. on weekends). He scampers out of the bed, finds his running gear, then heads out the door to join three other guys as they do their ritual eight-mile run through Nocatee. The “RunNoc” group is often joined by Dexter’s faithful four footed Weimaraner, Brody. Dexter believes this early routine physically and mentally preps him for the day’s challenges.

This Willowcove resident is a lifelong fitness buff, having more than 80 marathons and ultra races under his belt. Staying in shape allows him to enjoy related pursuits such as helping coach football at Valley Ridge Academy and serving on the race committee for Nocatee’s annual Apryle Showers 10K run.
A love for physical conditioning is shared with wife Christina, Cat for short. She serves as the fitness coordinator at Nocatee’s workout facility, also as a personal trainer for residents. Cat Dexter has completed 10 Iron Man Triathlons, events which demand a combo of swimming, biking and running, covering a total of 140.6 miles. Even their three teenage sons’ names reinforce the family’s devotion to motion … Dash, Chase and Cruz.

Q: So what do your days look like after the morning run?

A: I work full time as a professional engineer, licensed in Civil Engineering in 48 states, specializing in complex wood structures for a national firm based in Madison, Wis., where we lived for 14 years. When we moved to Florida almost four years ago, my employer agreed that I could become their first remote worker, staying in touch electronically. I’ve since come to know a number of men and women who live in Nocatee and work remotely. You need discipline to keep to task, but it’s a great way to live…no commuting.

Q:What brought you to Nocatee?

A: The weather, the ocean, and the schools. Cat and I tired of the snowy frigid Wisconsin winters. I had relatives in Florida and had visited them in the past. With three teens, schools are important, so we researched and found St. Johns County to be the number one ranked education system in the state. I see this teaching excellence up close through our three boys and also as an advisory board member of Nease High School’s Stellar Academy of Engineering. Additionally we have found a bunch of great welcoming people here, allowing an active social life.

Q: If you have any spare time what do you enjoy doing?

A: I’m blessed with energy and have always been curious about learning new things. I’m a bit of an entrepreneur. Since relocating to Florida I’ve earned a real estate license. In my first part-time year I’ve worked with buyers and sellers in seven deals, including the sale of what may be the most expensive residential property in Nocatee at $1.5 million. And of all things, I have a sideline of refinishing garage floors with epoxy coatings, 15 jobs and counting. My very first was for Cat, fixing up our garage so she could have a nicer space for working out at home. I think the manual aspect of this work provides a welcome break from engineering detail. 

Q: You wanted to share with our readers one other very unique pastime…

A: Pinball! Go figure… Remember one of Elton John’s early hits, “Pinball Wizard?” He was on to something. In our home’s second floor bonus room there are five colorful, bell-pinging pinball machines. I play with my sons, but Cat has not become a fan. There’s something about these man-crafted coin-op machines that appeals to the mechanical tinkering side of me. I’m not alone in this fun addiction. As a member of the “904 Silver Ball Rollers” I meet up with a group of men and women who rotate monthly among our different homes for competition and a good time. It’s a great release!

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Photo courtesy Ryan Dexter

Ryan Dexter

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