Capt. Richard Kresser will not only be running for himself, but for residents at Marshalltown’s Iowa Veterans Home when he attempts to be the first person to run a RAGBRAI route.
Kresser, a Raymond native currently on active duty with the U.S. Army in Seattle, contacted IVH recently with a plan.
He would run the RAGBRAI route July 21-27 as a fundraiser, hoping others would donate to assist IVH purchase equipment needed for its mental health department.
RAGBRAI, the annual bicycle ride across Iowa, is entering its 51st consecutive year.
This year, the 406-mile route begins in Sioux Center and ends in Clinton.
Kresser said motivation to help others was generated from his Afghanistan duty 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.
Commandant David Worley of IVH and an Army veteran, said he, staff and residents were thrilled with Kresser’s generosity.
“His offer inspired us at IVH,” 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.”
Worley said they are excited about the fundraising effort to help purchase biofeedback equipment, which will replace outdated equipment.
Dr. Douglas Steinblock, chief of mental health services at IVH, believes biofeedback is of value to his patients.
“Biofeedback is a technique one can use to learn to control the body’s functions, such as heart rate,” he said. “It has been a proven technique that helps the user manage many physical and mental health issues, including anxiety or stress.”
Kresser has been training aggressively.
He completed RAGBRAI as a cyclist five years ago and knows the physical demands of running the route will be tougher.
His goal is to run 80 to 100 miles a day on selected days of the event, which will require him to wake up at 1 a.m. and run.
The early start is designed to lessen exposure to extreme heat and humidity, which he may encounter.
At a minimum, he must average approximately 58 miles per day over the week long event.
He completed his first 100-mile run and was pleased.
“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,” said the 2009 Iowa State graduate.
Weekends are now used for intense training.
“On weekends, I’ve been putting in 50 miles daily,” he said. “I do this so I can get used to running extreme distances back to back, as I will be required to do on RAGBRAI.”
In addition to daily training and the 100-mile run contest, he has competed in two marathons this year.
Kresser has run and competed on trails in the green forests of Washington, exploring his limitations, which he has not yet found.
“While intimidating at first, the extreme distances of 50 kilometers, 50-mile and even 100-mile races became realities,” he said.
Kresser pledged to do his best, but challenged others to help.
“The machines needed at IVH are expensive,” he said. “The cost of the initial set of equipment and training is approximately $7,500. We hope to raise this and more.”
To make a tax-deductible donation, visit runningfarther.com and click on the donate button.
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. “And many here will be praying for him.”