Army Capt. Richard Kresser is taking on his biggest challenge to date: running the entire length of the Register’s Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) this July.
Kresser, who grew up in Raymond, Iowa, near Waterloo, was a runner from a young age, but never imagined running the entire length of RAGBRAI until he rode the route in 2008.
“I had a wonderful time on the trip and thought maybe I could run this route someday,” he said. “I had run some marathons at that point and then eventually did four back-to-back marathons in four days. I kept thinking that I could run all the days at RAGBRAI if I wanted to.”
That idea was ingrained in Kresser’s mind.
“I kept thinking about running the route even after I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012,” he said. “It’s never been done before and hopefully will be the first time anyone has accomplished it.”
Kresser physically and mentally prepared himself for a year and half by running mountain trails and marathons on treadmills during and after deployment.
He also exceeded his own benchmark by completing a 100-mile race in less than 20 hours-four hours faster than his goal time while back in the states.
That accomplishment pushed him to start specifically training for RAGBRAI. One of his training preparations includes running 30-50 miles on Saturdays and 20-40 miles on Sundays on trails in Washington state where he currently resides.
“One benefit from the military was learning how to be sleep and food deprived,” he said. “But when you do a run by yourself and know you can stop anytime is really tough. It’s going to be much more mentally tough than physically.”
During RAGBRAI, Kresser plans to start running between 4-6 a.m. each morning to beat the heat.
“I want to get my mileage checked off early morning so I can take the afternoons off if it’s hot,” he said. “There are going to be some long days.”
However, he won’t be alone.
Along with the hundreds of thousands of riders, he will have a rider supplying water, food and general support along the route.
His parents and sister, Carolyn Kresser, also be cheering him on.
“My mom will be riding this year with my dad driving the support vehicle,” Carolyn, who also lives in Washington state, said. “I won’t be there, but I will still be cheering him on. He (Richard) comes up with crazy ideas but never on a whim…He makes a goal, sets his mind to it and nothing gets in the way of it.”
In addition to being the first known person to accomplish this feat, Kresser hopes to raise a total of $25,000 to benefit the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. The funds will go toward a Biofeedback therapy option for post-traumatic stress disorder victims for Iowa Veterans.
“It’s a great therapy program where it uses mind conditioning for PTSD instead of medication,” Kresser said. “One hundred percent of the funds raised will go toward purchasing the equipment.”
Although running RAGBRAI will be just another feather in Kresser’s cap, he is looking to take on the next big challenge.
“I have a few ideas, like running the Pacific Crest Trail, which is about 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada,” he said. “However, in September I am going to run the Wonderland Trail (in Seattle, Wash.) which is 93 miles of high elevation.”
Kresser hopes to complete the trail in a day and a half.
Even though many only dream of running the entire length of RAGBRAI, Kresser said what matters is that people push themselves to become better.
“It doesn’t matter if you can run one mile or 100 miles,” he said. “What really matters is if you are pushing yourself to get better. Everyone has to start somewhere and quite often you find you can do more than you think. I’m not sure where I will go from here, but I will keep pushing my limits.”
RAGBRAI will start in Council Bluffs and end in Fort Madison passing through parts of Dallas County including Perry (overnight) on July 22 and Minburn, Dallas Center and Van Meter on July 23.