By Meg Baker | Fox News | FoxNews.com | June 28, 2012
Former Marine Rick Hermelin began a 3,000-mile coast-to-coast trek in March in an effort to raise funds and awareness for a non-profit that supports injured and critically ill service members and their families.
Now, Hermelin, 71, is closing in on the finish line, after riding an ElliptiGo cross country for the charity Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. He's on pace to make it from Parris Island, S.C., to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif., in just 100 days. He's due to complete his trip in two days.
Hermelin has already surpassed his $10,000 goal, carrying only his backpack while turning heads on his ElliptiGo.
"Last year, when I decided to do the coast-to-coast, I thought of the ElliptiGo as a way to do it in 100 days and to do it with a lot less strain, actually no trauma to my body," Hermelin told FoxNews.com.
Reaching Ramona, Calif., Hermelin has primarily been housed by firehouses across the country as he makes his journey, and says on other nights, Americans have graciously welcomed him into their homes. "It's been an opportunity to meet a lot of nice, genuine people out there."
The veteran says he thought about running across the country, but "wasn't sure if my body would hold up for the entire journey." Hermelin, a professional massage therapist, said, luckily a client, who could no longer bike or run due to severe back pain, suggested trying the ElliptiGo, a low-impact cross training machine alternative to the stress that repetitive running would put on the body.
The crazy-looking contraption pedals like a bike and emulates the running motion.
Hermelin served in the Marine Corps from 1959 to 1963 as an Aviation Communications Technician. Having completed 100 marathons, 100 half-marathons and 100 10K races, he was looking for his next big challenge.
"There was 100 of each, so coast-to-coast took on the 100 theme, and doing it on the ElliptiGo allowed me to do that. Had I done it on foot, it would have taken me at least twice that long."
Hermelin is a true warrior, proclaiming that this excursion has been one of the easiest things he has ever done. "There’s been some hard days, long days, but at the end – whether a 20-mile day, a 60-mile day – nothing hurts, no soreness, no aches, no pains. I'm used to being pretty much pain free, it's been my lifelong experience."