"Running longer, and harder."
Those are words that motivate ultra-marathoners, said Capt. Richard Kresser, of Raymond.
As a competitive long-distance runner, he said he is excited to put those words, and himself, to the test.
Capt. Richard Kresser of Raymond is shown hiking with comrades in Washington State recently. The U.S. Army officer has trained extensively in the Seattle area in preparation to be the first person to run a RAGBRAI route from start to finish. This year’s route is 406.6 miles.
Kresser will be attempting to be the first person to run a RAGBRAI route from start to finish.
RAGBRAI is the annual bicycle event sponsored by the Des Moines Register, where participants ride seven days across Iowa, from the Missouri River to the Mississippi.
He is running as a personal challenge, but most importantly, to help fellow veterans.
Kresser, a U.S. Army officer currently stationed in Seattle, has been raising money for equipment needed in the mental health department at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown since May.
He's raised nearly $8,000 to date and needs $17,000 more to attain a goal of $25,000.
Kresser said he hopes RAGBRAI-related publicity will generate more interest.
Casey's General Stores in Ankeny is on board, and have pledged $10 for every mile Kresser runs.
He has lined up pledges from other businesses as well.
His trek begins in Council Bluffs on Sunday and ends Saturday in Fort Madison, a hilly route of 406.6 miles.
"Others have tried to run the route, but were defeated by the heat, among other factors," Kresser said.
Veteran RAGBRAI participants will attest that heat and humidity can sometimes be brutal during the event, as was the case during days of the 2012 ride.
Kresser's plan is to avoid the heat as much as possible.
If necessary, he'll arise at 1 a.m., take a nap during the hottest part of the day and then run later, when temperatures are cooler.
Kresser, a 2009 Iowa State University graduate, was in Marshalltown visiting staff and residents at IVH Wednesday.
He said motivation to help others was generated from his tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2012, which made him aware of the many sacrifices made by veterans, past and present.
"Running in Afghanistan gave me an abundance of time to contemplate what service meant and partially understand what our veterans went through in other conflicts," he said.
"I'm anxious to start running RAGBRAI" he said.
At a minimum, he must average approximately 58 miles per day over the week long event.
Monday will be the most challenging day, as he must run 122 miles from Harlan to Perry.
Earlier this year he completed his first 100-mile run.
"This past March, I knew the time was right, as my body and mind allowed me to complete my first 100-mile run, finishing it in under 20 hours- meaning I had ran, on average, 12-minute miles for 100 miles straight," he said.
IVH Commandant David Worley and an Army veteran, said he, staff and residents were thrilled with Kresser's generosity.
"His offer inspired us," Worley said. "He is a highly motivated individual who cares about his fellow veterans, especially those suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and other issues. We were excited he contacted us and wanted to help. Funds donated will help us purchase biofeedback equipment, which will replace outdated equipment."
Dr. Douglas Steenblock, chief of mental health services at IVH, believes biofeedback is good for certain patients.
"It has been proven technique that it helps the user manage many physical and mental health issues, including anxiety or stress, asthma, chemotherapy side effects and incontinence," Steenblock said.
Worley said staff and residents have pledged and will do more.
"We'll be rooting for Capt. Kresser every step of his 406-mile journey" Worley said.
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