It's been said that less than one percent of all Americans have run a marathon, but the number of people who have run more than 200 marathons may be just one man, and he's doing it to honor America's fallen service members.
On Saturday, 51-year-old Mike Ehredt ran through eastern Iowa. He started in Guttenberg and ended in Dubuque. It marked his 24th marathon in 24 days.
"26 miles every day," he said.
Ehredt isn't slowing his daily schedule. He's on a 2,200 mile journey, from America's northern border in Minn. to the southern one in Texas.
"I won't take any days off because I'm on schedule to finish on Veterans Day in Galveston, Texas, at the Gulf," Ehredt said.
He pauses quite frequently along his route, however, to give thanks to the fallen. At every mile along his path, Ehredt plants a flag with a tag of information on it.
"They have the name, age, rank and hometown of every service member who's died in Afghanistan," he said.
"Number 617 Army Sgt. John Penich, 25, Beach Park, Illinois," Ehredt read, placing a flag on a weathered wooden post just south of Durango on the side of US Highway 52.
Ehredt ran across the US in 2010 as well: a trip of more than 4,500 miles, from the west coast in Oregon to the east coast in Maine. He planted a flag at every mile marker for a military member who died in Iraq, but he said his task will not be complete until there is also a flag out there for every serviceman and woman who died in Afghanistan.
"You know, my job wasn't finished, so I had to go north to south," Ehredt said.
Details of his journeys, all of which are part of his Project America Run, are online, including the geo-tagged location of every flag.
"They're chronological order, so the very first flag was number one, and when I finish down in the Gulf, I will have accounted for everybody up to that point," Ehredt said, who served as a combat engineer in the US Army from 1979 to 1983.
On Saturday, he had some friends keeping pace with him for a couple of days.
"Friends of mine from when I lived here in the Midwest," he said, adding he's "pretty much by myself 99 percent of the time."
This Idaho man, retired postal clerk and Army veteran said he runs with no political statement or call to action.
"You just one day know what you're supposed to do, and you love what you do," he said. "I just knew I wanted to say thank you to the members of the military."
Project America Run's motto is One Life. One Flag. One Mile.
"I give them their special moment," he said. "We should be quite thankful, quite thankful to have the things we have, and they should be remembered every day for those who provided them to us."
Ehredt continues his journey Sunday as he runs from Dubuque to Galena, Ill. He said he has about 18 hours of recover in between every run, during which his re-fuel drink of choice is chocolate milk.
"I absolutely love every day," he said. "You know, there's never a morning I wake up and go, 'Oh, I got to go out and do 26 miles.'"
In 2011, Ehredt ran 468 miles across Spain to raise awareness and funds for Honor Our Veterans, a Jackson Hole, Wyo.-based support organization for veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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