100 Days for the Corps

MCRD Parris Island, SC to MCRD San Diego, CA

2,949 Miles in 100 Days

March 23 - June 30, 2012

My name is Rick Hermelin and I served in the Marine Corps from 1959 to 1963 as an Aviation Communications Technician. Over a period of 35 years, from August 1976 to June 2011, I completed 100 marathons, 100 half-marathons and 100 10K’s. When I completed these milestones, I started to look for a new goal and found inspiration during a workout at the 24-Hour Fitness in Thousand Oaks, CA. 

I was on an elliptical machine at the gym and happened to be watching Regis and Kelly Live as Dean Karnazes finished his Run Across America on their stage. I was reminded that running across the country was something I had wanted to do for a long time myself and in that moment I decided to make the commitment. 

Since I would be 71 years old when I started my journey, I was worried about my body being able to handle the trek. That’s when a client suggested I try the ElliptiGO, because it would still be “running” just without the impact. By doing the run on an ElliptiGO I would be able to do it without subjecting my body to the impact of regular running and I would complete it much faster than on foot.

Exactly 53 years after my first day in the Marine Corps, on March 23, 2012, I started this journey to celebrate the good influence the Corps has had on my life all these years.  My run on an ElliptiGO started at MCRD Parris Island, SC and finished 100 days and roughly 3,000 miles later on June 30, 2012 at MCRD San Diego, CA.

My goal was not only to run across the United States on my ElliptiGO, but to raise at least $10,000 for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, which provides support for injured and critically ill members of the Armed Forces and their families. In the end, I was able to raise more than $11,500 for this great cause.

Rick logged each day on his 100 Days for the Corps Blog. Below are some memorable moments:

Rick at the El Paso Fire Department on DAY 61 DAY 5  - Rick met Fire Captain Hutto at the Huddle House in Hazlehurst, Georgia, who offered him a place to sleep for the night. By DAY 16, a small network of Fire and EMS stations across Georgia and Florida had already hosted Rick. 

“I wouldn’t mind being hosted by other stations all across the country,” remarked Rick. “They make great hosts and great hamburgers.”

At the end of Rick’s 100-day journey, he had stayed 53 nights with Fire and EMS stations across the country.

Photo: Rick at the El Paso Fire Department on DAY 61

DAY 12 - On day 12, Rick ran on the ElliptiGO from Colquitt, Georgia to Malone, Florida. He wrote, “Malone is pretty small and not an easy place to meet people to host me. After eating a good meatball Subway sandwich, I did find some local businessmen there who suggested I stop by the City Hall only a block away. It was closed for lunch so I went to the gas station next door where I bought a copy of the Jackson County Floridian newspaper that carried a story about me from a phone interview yesterday by Lauren Delgado. Having the paper with me made it easy to have a conversation with the clerk who had just read the story herself. 

Right about then a new resident to Malone, Debbie Slingerland, walked in and joined in the conversation and offered to host me for the night. Turned out she and her husband Jack, had just moved from Ft Hood in Killeen, Texas about a month ago. They have opened up their home to me and really have made me feel at home.” 

Rick later found out that Debbie and Jack Slingerland were given the keys to the city by the Mayor of Malone for having hosted him. “She and her husband Jack were wonderful hosts and deserved the honor,” said Rick.

Photo: Debbie and Jack Slingerland at their home in Malone, FL

DAY 29 - Rick continued to raise awareness of his journey and fundraising through meeting people along the way and speaking with local media. On DAY 29, riding between Livonia and Opelousas, Louisiana, Rick had what was becoming a typical experience for him as he traveled across small towns in the South. 

“I stopped at a convenience store with a restaurant where the manager insisted on cooking me breakfast even though they were not open yet and then did not let me pay. This is one of many such experiences I have had on this journey. 

One man, Lenny Hall, stopped me on the road to Opelousas to donate to the Semper Fi Fund and have his picture taken with me.”

Photo: Rick and Lenny Hall

DAY 48  - After only experiencing some light rain in the first days of his journey, when Rick got to Texas, he not only had to tackle challenging hills west of Austin, but record-setting rainfall and flash flooding. 

“Today was a hard 35.5 miler with lots of tough hills. The last 5 days since I left Austin have been the hardest days so far. Mike and Mary Forman are hosting me today. I was featured on the front page of today’s local newspaper thanks to Mary and she arranged to have me speak about my trip to the Lions meeting tomorrow evening.”  

As it turned out, Rick wouldn’t get to speak at the Lions meeting the next day. They received 4 inches of rain the next day and all the roads were flooded, so Rick took a rest day to wait for better weather the next day. 

This photo is a road he rode into town on the previous day.

DAY 50 - ElliptiGO owner Bill Nolan and his wife Cathy drove down from their home in northern Texas to meet Rick. Bill had looked at Rick’s planned route online and knowing how difficult riding through the wind and heat of West Texas could be,he decided to join Rick and accompany him through 7 long days of riding. 

During those 7 days, Bill carried Rick’s backpack to increase his load in preparation for a Century Ride (100-mile ride) in Santa Fe, New Mexico that Bill would complete just a few days after leaving Rick. In addition to taking a week out of their schedules to provide moral support for Rick, Bill and Cathy’s incredible generosity extended to paying for Rick’s lodging and meals all week, and then donating to his fundraising. 

DAY 74 - When Rick arrived in Chandler, Arizona on DAY 74, he went straight to the bike shop: 

“My first stop was at Performance Bicycle in Chandler where I met Blake T., the Service Manager. I had been having a very slow leak on my rear tire, not enough to warrant removing it, and asked Blake to take a look at it. He took the tube out without removing the tire and added sealant to it. He also noticed that the front tire was completely flat and found a “goat head” stuck on the side. My first flat in about 2,500 miles and it happened as I approached the bike store. He took care of that flat also.”

Photo: The "Goat's Head" that caused Rick's only flat tire

DAY 84 - On DAY 84, Rick crossed from Arizona into California. He stopped at a truck stop near Blythe, California and met a truck driver there in his 60’s who asked Rick about his journey and then asked him why Rick, in his 70’s, stayed fit. 

Rick responded, “So I can enjoy life more.”

DAY 100 - On Day 100, Rick was joined by 8 other riders for the final day of his journey. He was greeted on the base at MCRD San Diego by supporters, friends, and the staff and families from the Semper Fi Fund that he had raised money for.

Crossing the country on the ElliptiGO elliptical running device, Rick racked up some impressive statistics:

Daily average distance:   33 miles

Average speed:   11.7 mph

Maximum speed:   42.5 mph

Total number of run days:   89

Total number of rest days:   11

Total hours on the ElliptiGO:   251

Total feet of vertical climbing:   83,000

Total number of calories burned:   182,000

Total number of states crossed:   10

Total number of flat tires:   One!