A New Mexico man can officially say he has run a marathon in each state.
While it took him more than a decade to complete, he says his passion for running quickly became a personal mission to raise awareness about our nation’s fallen soldiers and their families.
“There are still people fighting and dying for our country and people forget that. I gave it my all for three or four hours when I run a marathon, but these soldiers have given their all for all time,” said George Kraehe.
Rio Rancho resident, Kraehe set out on this mission 12 years ago, initially running marathons to challenge himself. By his third race, he decided he wanted to run for a cause.
“In Iraq, I ran for an organization called TAPS. I decided I was going to run a marathon in each state in honor of a fallen soldier in each state all of it to run funds for TAPS,” said Kraehe.
TAPS is a national organization that provides counseling and other services for surviving families and loved ones.
As he traveled to each state, Kraehe says TAPS would set him up with a family of a fallen soldier or he would find a surviving veteran to represent while he ran.
“It was definitely a moving experience to meet the person you’re running for or the family of the soldier you’re running for,” said Kraehe.
Kraehe says it was a long, exhausting journey. He averaged four marathons a year. Last year, he ran 12 marathons.
It was a difficult task for a 52-year-old Army veteran.
“At one point I realized that I’m getting older and maybe my body is not going to hold up,” said Kraehe.
Kraehe never once wanted to quit. He remembered his goal, to raise money with every mile he logged.
“I raised almost $11,000 for TAPS,” said Kraehe.
Kraehe finished his 50th marathon just a few weeks ago by completing the Missoula Marathon in Montana.
Before he embarks on another race, he says he will be staying off his feet a little while longer.
“It’s a struggle but I’m kind of forcing myself to take 4 to 6 weeks off of running. But I’ll be back and I’ll be back running for TAPS,” said Kraehe.
Kraehe says his first marathon back will be in New Mexico, at the Bataan Memorial Death March next spring.
Now that he has accomplished this huge feat, Kraehe says he is now expanding his challenge globally, running a marathon on every continent.
So far he has two continents down, including North America and Asia.