Over Memorial Day weekend, Peter Makredes carried his cooler full of food and drinks to a park in Las Vegas.
But he wasn’t there to grill, he was there to run — and the food served as his fuel.
While others headed to Exploration Peak Park to relax with their families, Makredes had a mission: run 100 miles in 24 hours to raise money and awareness around veterans suicide.
“They did their job protecting us, now it is our job to protect them,” Makredes wrote on his online fundraising page through Mission 22, a non-profit that provides counseling for veterans. “By sacrificing just twenty-four hours of my time I hope to raise awareness, support, and money for these heroes who are struggling right now.”
As of Wednesday, Makredes had raised nearly $16,000 through his online fundraiser and another $1,000 in t-shirt sales. That’s almost enough to give three veterans counseling treatment for an entire year, he said.
“Twenty-four hours isn’t anything in the grand scheme of things,” Makredes told CNN on Tuesday, a day after completing the run. “I do this so I can make someone’s life better.”
More than 225 laps around the park
This is the third year that Makredes has completed a 24 hour run. Last year, he ran 88 miles and the year before 80.
The 28-year-old knows exactly what to pack to keep him going: containers of pasta, banana sandwiches and electrolyte drinks — all to nourish his body throughout the run.
Some of his family members, friends and rugby teammates joined him at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning to cheer him on as he started his first lap around the park.
Throughout Sunday and into Monday morning, Makredes ran over 225 laps around the park to reach his goal of 100 miles. He completed all the miles just over the 24 hour mark around 9 a.m. on Monday.
“I needed the number of miles to be super high so people would care about the cause,” Makredes said. “It also really tests me, my will power and pushes my body to the limits.”
At times, people joined him and completed a lap along beside him. His family handed him fresh water and snacks as he passed by the start line. They even held up sparklers at night to show their support.
Makredes said he took two pairs of shoes and every 20 miles he would change out of them to help prevent blisters.
His run may be over, but the online fundraiser doesn’t end until June 8. Makredes said he plans to continue his Memorial Day weekend tradition every year, and possibly add more miles.