JCFloridan: 71-year-old running to California to raise funds

April 2nd, 2012

By Lauren Delgado | Jackson County Floridan | Jcfloridan.com | April 2, 2012

Rick Hermelin challenges himself through running.

He ran a bit in high school, but mostly stuck with weights, bicycles, laps in the pool, etc. When he was around 35 years old he decided to shake up his routine by running a mile on his gym’s rooftop track. The results shocked him.

“I was huffing and puffing after a quarter of a mile,” he said.

Instead of sticking to his previous exercise routine, Hermelin kept running. Soon he could run a mile without “huffing and puffing.” Then 5 miles. Then 10 miles. Then, about 35 years later, Hermelin looked up and he’d run 100 marathons, 100 half-marathons, and 100 10K races.

His last half-marathon was last year, at 70 years old. That’s when he decided he needed a new goal.

Keeping with his “100” theme, Hermelin will run 3,000 miles from coast to coast in 100 days as a fundraiser for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Hermelin said. “I wanted to do it for something bigger than myself, for a cause.”

The nonprofit fund provides Marines, sailors and other military members who support the Marines who are injured or facing a life-threatening illness after 9-11 with financial assistance and the lifestyle changes that may occur.

Hermelin, an Aviation Communications Technician with the Marine Corps from 1959-1963, said the fund works with the military members to rehabilitate physically and mentally.

“The Semper Fi fund is doing a terrific job helping not only marines, but also other military men and women after 9/11,” Hermelin said.

His goal is to raise $10,000 for the fund. As of press time, Hermelin had raised $3,071.

To not overload himself, the 71-year-old Hermelin is using a fairly new device, the ElliptiGO, to trek from coast to coast. A cross between an elliptical machine and a bicycle, the ElliptiGO allows users to run without the negative effects to the body.

“The motion is like running,” Hermelin explained. “So in effect I’m running coast to coast but with no impact.”

The California resident began his journey at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island S.C., on March 23. He plans to end his journey at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

Hermelin depends on the kindness of strangers for his lodging in each city. He describes himself as “not shy,” simply speaking with people in restaurants or stores about what his mission and his need for a place to stay.

“People are very generous,” Hermelin said. “People want to help if they can. I expect that to be my experience for this trip.”

Hermelin has stayed with families and local fire and EMS departments so far. Today, he will be staying in Malone. He is still looking for a place to stay. Anyone interested can email him at rahermelin@gmail.com.

“I’m a great guest,” Hermelin said. “I leave places cleaner than I found them.”

The ElliptiGO carries not only Hermelin, but also all of his things. Hermelin keeps it light with a few water bottles, his notebook computer and a change of clothing in his backpack, making up about 18 pounds. Tools and supplies for the ElliptiGo clip on to the machine itself.

His day usually starts at 8 a.m. and he covers an average of 33 miles. Usually by lunchtime he’s at his destination, and spends the rest of the day getting to know the people and the town.

So far, Hermelin feels great, no pain, and no exhaustion.

“I’m doing this, I’m 71 years old, and I would encourage more people to be fit, to take care of themselves so when they get to my age they can do something like this without hurting,” Hermelin said.

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