RAGBRAI XLIV Countdown – July 24-30, 2016
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Video: Veteran after first day running across Iowa



Richard Kresser is running the 406.6-mile RAGBRAI route for charity. The Register’s Michael Morain interviewed him Sunday after Day 1. Here is video of that interview:

The story below was published in The Des Moines Register in June.

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Army Capt. Richard Kresser has completed an ultra-marathon of 100 miles and a race that included four marathons over four consecutive days.

But he’ll take on his greatest physical fitness challenge in July when he attempts to run the more than 400 miles of the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

Kresser, 27, plans to include the Karras loop on day two — bringing that day’s mileage to more than 100 — because this year’s route is shorter than most, he said. In all, Kresser will run 423 miles.

The seven-day bicycle ride draws more than 10,000 cyclists to Iowa every July. Others have run portions of the route, but Kresser could be the first to complete the entire event on foot.

“For me, I’ve just kept trying to pump that distance up and keep going more and more and see how far I can push my limits,” said Kresser, an Iowa native now living in Washington state.

This year’s ride is July 21-27.

The physical feat has extra meaning for Kresser because it’s also an effort to raise money for new medical equipment for the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. The Army engineer, who spent 11 months in Afghanistan, is working to raise $25,000 to buy a device that can help treat post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and other stress-related disorders.

“My deployment … really opened my eyes to what some of the older veterans went through in prior conflicts,” Kresser said. “I wanted to find a way to help give back to them.”

Kresser grew up in Raymond, east of Waterloo, attended Iowa State University and is now stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord southwest of Tacoma, Wash.

He completed RAGBRAI the traditional way in 2008, and he often thought of returning as he pushed himself to try more challenging running endeavors. “If I got to the point where I wanted to quit, that little thing in the back of my mind would shout out, ‘RAGBRAI.’ ”

Long runs provide time to reflect on his service and the service of others. His engineering company lost two soldiers, Trevor Pinnick and Joseph Lilly, last June while fighting in Afghanistan.

“They’ve been in my mind quite a bit the last couple weeks as I’ve been running,” Kresser said. “Thinking of the sacrifice those veterans have made definitely makes it much more meaningful and much harder to quit when the going gets tough.”

Commandant David Worley of the Iowa Veterans Home plans to join Kresser by bike for a few days of the event. The Marshalltown nursing and residential care facility is home to 609 residents. More than half of them have been diagnosed with some sort of mental health challenge, Worley said.

Kresser “understands and works with these men and women every day,” Worley said. “PTSD, traumatic brain injuries are on the forefront of what we’re dealing with.”

The biofeedback treatment protocol Kresser is raising money for uses electrical sensors to help patients monitor whether the processes and techniques being used to treat their problems are working, said Douglas Steenblock, chief of mental health services for the veterans home. It also is an effective alternative treatment for patients who cannot tolerate medication, Steenblock said.

“It’s going to be a very helpful treatment to augment the other mental health services we have for our veterans,” Steenblock said.

So far, Kresser has raised about $5,000 toward his $25,000 goal, much of which has come from corporate sponsors including Casey’s General Stores and the Runner’s Flat, a Cedar Falls store.

Kresser won’t have his bike but does plan to take in as much of the RAGBRAI experience as he can, including the food. “The wonderful thing about running long distances is you can eat whatever you want,” he said.

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