Iowa native to run entire RAGBRAI route
Among the thousands of bicyclists getting a week’s workout in the 41st annual RAGBRAI, an Iowa native plans to leave his bike at home and run the whole 423 miles, an average of 60 miles per day for seven days.
As far as his research with RAGBRAI officials has shown, this would be first time someone has run the entire route.
“On the second day out, I plan to run the century loop,” said Richard Kresser, a U.S. Army captain stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord southwest of Tacoma, Wash.
The century, or Karras Loop, is an optional addition along the July 22 RAGBRAI route that adds 17 miles to the day’s regular 83 miles for a total of 100 miles.
Kresser is a native of Raymond, a town in Black Hawk County with a 2010 Census of 788 people.
He was a college student at Iowa State University when he took the challenge to ride RAGBRAI in 2008 with friends.
“The excitement, energy and friendliness of both the locals and visiting bikers on RAGBRAI stayed with me and made the 2008 experience unforgettable,” he wrote on his website www.runningfarther.com. “I slowly became intrigued — or obsessed — with running RAGBRAI.”
Kresser graduated ISU and Army ROTC in 2009, earning a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Engineer Corps. His duty station was Fort Lewis, Wash., which merged with nearby McChord Air Force Base in 2010. He has attended Sapper Engineering and Army Ranger schools.
He ran track and cross country in high school, but said he was never fast. He began running marathons in college, but again, knew he’d never be quick to the finish line.
The thought, “If I can’t run faster, I can run farther,” occurred to him, he said.
When he arrived at his new Army post, he found the Pacific Northwest and Mount Rainer’s neighborhood have some of the densest green forests he’d ever seen. He began competing in trail runs and endurance events.
“In March, I knew the time was right to run RAGBRAI when my body and mind allowed me to complete my first 100-mile trail run, finishing in a little more than 19 hours, when I had planned to need 24 hours,” said Kresser.
RAGBRAI’s 50-mile days won’t be so bad, Kresser said.
The first day of RAGBRAI leaves Council Bluffs Sunday, July 21, and is 54.8 miles to Harlan.
“I’ll get to bed early Sunday and get up very early Monday, around 3 a.m. to run 100 miles the second day,” he said. “My mom is going to bicycle along beside me. My dad is driving the support vehicle and can take me to where I’ll sleep along the route.”
It may be midnight before he finishes that second day, which stops overnight in Perry, Kresser said.
“The next day, I can sleep in a bit,” he said.
Day 3 RAGBRAI route is 50 miles to Des Moines. Days 4 and 5 are 50 miles to Knoxville and then 52 miles onto Oskaloosa, respectively.
From Oskaloosa to Fairfield on Day 6, the route is 52.6 miles. And the final day, Fairfield to Fort Madison is 63 miles through the Villages of Van Buren.
He recalls Iowa’s humid summers and plans to take afternoon breaks as needed, running in the mornings and evenings if need be.
And he realizes he can’t run with the bicyclists.
“I run along trails so running on the shoulder, in the gravel, will be normal for me,” Kresser said.
He’s enjoying the mental and physical challenge, but he has another reason for running RAGBRAI. Kresser is raising awareness and donations for the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown.
“My experience deployed to Kandahar Province in Afghanistan during 2012 opened my eyes to what past and present veterans have sacrificed in many different ways in many different conflicts,” Kresser wrote on his website.
“I had a small mountain on my base, where I would spend long hours trail running a spaghetti network of trails which overlooked the Afghan farmland. This gave me an abundance of time to contemplate what service meant and partially understand what our veterans went through in prior conflicts. I wanted to find a way to use my running to help give back to the veteran community.”
Kresser’s campaign is targeted toward mental health options for veterans.
He wants to purchase a biofeedback machine, something doctors and therapists at the veterans home have been wanting. Biofeedback can assist veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and chronic pain.
“Biofeedback is a way to use your own mind to control body functions that are typically subconscious, such as skin temperature, muscle tension, heart rate or blood pressure,” Kresser said.
During a session, a patient is monitored with a biofeedback machine, which gives instant feedback. The biofeedback psychologists teach patients different techniques to control a particular body function. The patient visually sees how the technique is achieving the desired effect. Through a number of sessions, this control can become natural reactions instead of conscious thoughts with no need for medication.
“Just like in my running, you can use your mind, the most powerful tool you have, to overcome your own obstacles,” said Kresser.
Machines used to monitor the body’s physiological reactions are expensive. The cost of the initial set of machines plus training is roughly $7,500.
“I hope to raise this and more,” he said. “Your donations will help purchase the equipment for this project.”
His mother, riding alongside on a bicycle for the route, can accept donation checks and cash, but Kresser said the best way is to go to his website www.runningfarther.com and donate online. All donations are tax deductible.
“One-hundred percent of donations will go to this campaign at the veterans’ home,” said Kresser. “I’m not taking any expenses out for myself.”
His website also has several blogs he’s written about training, photos of Kresser and scenic pictures from the Seattle/Tacoma area and Afghanistan.
What are his plans after RAGBRAI?
The run ends on a Saturday.
“I have to report back to work on Monday,” said Kresser. “I have a few big runs planned in August and September.”