AARP: Cross-Country for the Corps

March 22nd, 2012

By Allan Fallow | AARP | AARP.org | March 22, 2012

A geezer jock crosses the country on an elliptical bike for a straightforward cause.

Rick Hermelin is just your average 71-year-old on a trans-America trek.

Early on the morning of March 23, if all goes according to plan, the California electronics engineer-turned-massage therapist will pedal away from the main gate of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) at Parris Island, S.C., on the first leg of a 10-state, 2,951-mile crossing of the country. Riding a strange contraption known as an ElliptiGO®, or elliptical bicycle — imagine a piece of exercise equipment that stole a pair of wheels and escaped from a gym — Hermelin hopes to complete his quest in 100 days. That would put him at the main gate of MCRD San Diego by June 30.

But this is no mere look-at-me lark. Along the way, Hermelin will be talking up two noble causes. The first is the benefits of physical fitness, a topic on which the 5-foot-11, 163-pound Hermelin is clearly an expert: Since 1976 he has run 100 marathons, 100 half-marathons and 100 10K races — a grand total of 4,550 miles. (You can almost hear his contemporaries gnashing their teeth when he notes, "I wear the same pants size I did in my early 30s.")

Hermelin's second higher purpose is to raise at least $10,000 for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., that awards financial grants to wounded and critically ill U.S. service members and their families. His choice of the charity was a natural: Not only is Hermelin a former Marine — he served as an aviation communications technician stateside and in Thailand from 1959 to 1963 — but March 23 will mark the 53rd anniversary of his induction into basic training at MCRD San Diego.

Good job, Marine! But why this particular conveyance?

"When I finished running the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll half-marathon last June 5," says the bubbly, bearded Hermelin, "I promised myself that would be my last official run." (He doesn't volunteer his time, but I found out he completed the 13.1-mile course in a more-than-respectable 2:33:54.) "By then I'd been a runner for 36 years, so I was looking for my next big goal.

But this is no mere look-at-me lark. Along the way, Hermelin will be talking up two noble causes. The first is the benefits of physical fitness, a topic on which the 5-foot-11, 163-pound Hermelin is clearly an expert: Since 1976 he has run 100 marathons, 100 half-marathons and 100 10K races — a grand total of 4,550 miles. (You can almost hear his contemporaries gnashing their teeth when he notes, "I wear the same pants size I did in my early 30s.")

Hermelin's second higher purpose is to raise at least $10,000 for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., that awards financial grants to wounded and critically ill U.S. service members and their families. His choice of the charity was a natural: Not only is Hermelin a former Marine — he served as an aviation communications technician stateside and in Thailand from 1959 to 1963 — but March 23 will mark the 53rd anniversary of his induction into basic training at MCRD San Diego.

Good job, Marine! But why this particular conveyance?

"When I finished running the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll half-marathon last June 5," says the bubbly, bearded Hermelin, "I promised myself that would be my last official run." (He doesn't volunteer his time, but I found out he completed the 13.1-mile course in a more-than-respectable 2:33:54.) "By then I'd been a runner for 36 years, so I was looking for my next big goal.

"At first I toyed with doing a coast-to-coast trip on foot or running through all 48 state capitals. But that would have taken too long, and torn up my knees. Then, in May, I caught ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes completing a coast-to-coast run in 75 days averaging 42 miles a day on TV. That got me rethinking how I could get from coast to coast, which is something I wanted to do for a long time.”

How You Can Help Rick Hermelin

Rick Hermelin will be blogging about his trip from the road. If you'd like to follow his progress, visit http://100daysforthecorps.wordpress.com. For those keen on contributing to his fundraising effort, the blog includes a donation link to the Semper Fi Fund.

Sheets, not shekels, can help him out as well: "To save money and meet real people, I plan to stay with local hosts as much as possible," he says. "So if you live near the route (laid out day by day on his blog) or know someone who does, I'd very much appreciate a couch to sleep on for a night!" (To volunteer your sofa cushions, e-mail Rick at rahermelin@gmail.com.)

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