Seattle resident to raise funds for added mental health treatment options for veterans by running July 21-27 bike ride route
SEATTLE – Now in its 41st year, RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa) is known for testing the mettle of bicyclists throughout the world as they ride for seven days from one end of Iowa to the other. While fun, the 400-plus-mile route (it changes every year; this year it’s 406 miles) is a challenge for most bike riders. It’s even more of a challenge for a runner, which is exactly why 27-year-old Richard Kresser has decided to attempt it.
“In 2008, I rode RAGBRAI, and it was then that I decided I wanted to run a day of it,” said Kresser, a current Seattle resident who was born and raised in Iowa. “Since moving to Washington, I’ve gotten into ultra-marathon running, and eventually decided to see if I could push my body to the limit and run the entire distance of RAGBRAI.”
According to RAGBRAI organizers, no one has ever attempted to run the RAGBRAI race before (that they know of), although a few people have run a day of the route. The shortest day of the event, which takes place July 21 – 27, is usually 50 miles, with the longer days around 80 miles.
As part of his effort, Kresser is raising funds to benefit the Iowa Veterans Home, which is one of the three largest of the 148 state-owned facilities for veterans in the nation. Specifically, he’s raising money for added mental health treatment options for Iowa Veterans.
“In partnership with the IVH’s mental health doctor, Dr. Doug Steenblock, I am hoping to raise money for a treatment option called Biofeedback,” he said. “I am really excited about the potential possibilities for it. The doctors and therapists at IVH have wanted to implement Biofeedback to assist veterans with PTSD and chronic pain.”
Kresser chose to raise funds for the veterans home because he is a vet himself. He served in Afghanistan from November 2011 to November 2012.
“The Iowa Veterans Home is a great program. And with my military background, being in the Army and spending a year in Afghanistan, I wanted to highlight a veterans’ organization,” Kresser said. “They do a great service to Iowa veterans by providing health care and a place to go for those who don’t have an alternative.”
Donations of all sizes in support of Kresser’s cause can be made to IVH at http://www.runningfarther.com/donate/. All donations, which are tax-deductible, will be routed to IVH from Kresser’s website via the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.
Running RAGBRAI is not a challenge Kresser is taking on lightly. It’s something he’s been preparing for for years.
“I spent a year in Afghanistan, and we had a mountain on the base, so I would run that in an attempt to get in as many miles as I could,” he said. “Every day that I ran, my thoughts would go toward training for my first 100-miler and for RAGBRAI. It’s been a long preparation, but all those miles combined have prepared me both physically and mentally for this run.”
Kresser has also run several ultra-marathons in the past few years as well as part of his preparation. (An ultra marathon is anything longer than 26.2 miles.) In March, he completed his first 100-mile race, finishing 4th place overall with a time of 19 hours, 58 minutes.
This year RAGBRAI begins at Council Bluffs and ends at Fort Madison. Every year it takes a different route across Iowa, but it always starts on the west side (Missouri River) and ends on the east side (Mississippi River).
Additional information on Kresser and his attempt to run RAGBRAI, as well as on the Iowa Veterans Home, can be found at http://www.runningfarther.com/. Kresser is also on Twitter, @runningRAGBRAI. For more information on RAGBRAI, visit http://ragbrai.com/.