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Mike Ehredt Continues Mission to Run for Fallen American Soldiers

The veteran has run more than 6,000 miles to honor those who lost their lives.

For those left behind, especially when it comes to the families and friends of fallen soldiers, determining how to honor and express gratitude for those who didn’t make it home is difficult. Five years ago Mike Ehredt, a U.S. Army veteran and retired postal clerk, launched Project America Run as a way to do just that by doing something he loves—running.

A certified personal trainer and running coach with an impressive endurance racing resumé, including two Eco-Challenge and Marathon des Sables finishes, and three times kissing the rock at the Hardrock 100 in Silverton, Colo., Ehredt kicked off his remembrance effort with Project America Run Iraq in 2010.

Starting on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Oregon, the soft-spoken runner covered 4,424 miles across the U.S., before finishing at the edge of the Atlantic in Maine. He ran self-supported, covering more than a marathon worth of miles a day, pushing a jogging stroller with his gear and flags to honor the fallen. For his concept of One Life-One Flag-One Mile, Ehredt stopped every mile along the route to place an American flag tied with a yellow ribbon and inscribed with the name of a soldier who died in Iraq.

In 2012, Ehredt continued with Project America Run II in remembrance of U.S. soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan. He traveled 2,146 miles from the northern border of Minnesota, to just outside of Galveston, Texas. Between the two journeys Ehredt ran 6,570 miles over 223 days, averaging more than 29 miles per day, and taking a total of four rest days.

The 55-year-old Ehredt began Project America Run III this past Tuesday in his hometown of Sandpoint, Idaho. Since completing his initial projects, 70 more service men and women have lost their lives in Iraq and 230 in Afghanistan. The veteran plans to cover approximately 50 miles per day, placing a flag in a peg board every mile, for six days, finishing on Memorial Day. Instead of choosing a point-to-point route, Ehredt opted to stay in Sandpoint and is running a 1.05-mile loop in Travers Park. Not only is it safer than dealing with highway traffic (“in case the third time wasn’t a charm”), he can sleep in his own bed and has plenty of support and running company, including local school children.

“This isn’t about how far some guy named Mike can run. It’s about being a good person and doing something for someone you’ve never met, about being more than you are,” he says. “It’s an important message to share with kids.”

Ehredt will complete his final lap of Project America Run III, in honor of Air Force Captain David Lyon from Sandpoint, Idaho, at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 30.

When Competitor caught up withEhredt by phone, he was on mile 135 and “feeling pretty good, all things considered.” He’s running from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with a brief midday break. He’s also changing directions with each lap.

“I’ve had people with me 95 percent of the time,” says Ehredt, who was excited to interact with the Sandpoint community during his run. “This is my personal remembrance, but, for all of us, the best way to remember is not to forget, and the connections made on these runs help to accomplish that.”

He trained much like he does for any ultra, with smart miles, plenty of time on the trail and dedicated mental preparation.

“Once I begin to taper, it’s time to wrap my head around the challenge,” Ehredt says. “Mentally, I have to put myself in that place where I’ve been before. It’s almost like a switch flips and then I’m ready to go.”

For his run, Ehredt is alternating between a pair of Hoka One One Bondi he wore during the last week of Project America Run II (he dug them out for old-time’s sake) in 2012 and a pair of Brooks Ghost 6. In addition to fueling with V-Fuel and Tailwind Nutrition, he is eating all the junk food he wants.

To view every flag placed by Project America Run, use the Find a Flag function on the Project America Run website.