ElliptiGO, Inc., creators of the world’s first elliptical bike, announced that 71-year-old former Marine Rick Hermelin has today begun his journey of running on an ElliptiGO from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. If all goes as planned, he will finish this record-setting trek in 100 days on June 30th, 2012. Hermelin will be self-supported for the crossing and hopes to raise at least $10,000 for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, a non-profit set up to provide immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

Rick served in the Marine Corps from 1959 to 1963 as an Aviation Communications Technician, but it wasn’t until later in life that he developed his love of running. Over the course of 35 years, from 1976 to 2011, he completed 100 marathons, 100 half-marathons, and 100 10K races. Having reached this incredible milestone in June 2011, he started looking for a new challenge.

“I had thought about running across the U.S. before,” said Hermelin, “but I wasn’t sure if my body would hold up for the entire journey. Plus, it would take me about 6 months.” That’s when one of his clients suggested he try out the ElliptiGO as an alternative.

Designed by runners, the ElliptiGO is the first outdoor, low-impact, fitness device specifically designed to emulate the running motion. It allows athletes of all levels to get a high-intensity workout without experiencing the repetitive impact of running. Healthy athletes and injured athletes alike have found it the most effective way to get an outdoor running experience without the usual pounding on their bodies.

In keeping with his “100” theme, Rick put together a plan to run across the country on the ElliptiGO in 100 days to raise awareness about the benefits of being physically fit, something he learned in the Marines. ElliptiGO co-founder and co-president, Bryan Pate, was impressed with his idea. “As a fellow former Marine, I admire his courage in attempting this crossing alone and appreciate that he wants to help out his fellow Marines.”

Together, Bryan and Rick identified the Semper Fi Fund as the ideal organization to incorporate into the event. “The Marine Corps had such a positive impact on my life and supporting the Semper Fi Fund seemed like a great way to honor that influence,” said Hermelin. “To finish this 3,000-mile trek will be a great personal accomplishment, but raising money for the Semper Fi Fund and helping out other Marines is what will make my effort meaningful. I’ve raised more than $2,000 to date and hope to make it much more.”

The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that directs urgently needed resources to post 9-11 Marines and sailors, as well as members of the Army, Air Force or Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces. The Semper Fi Fund provides relief for financial needs that arise during hospitalization and recovery, as well as assistance for those with perpetuating needs.  Since establishing this fund in 2004, they have issued more than 38,000 grants totaling more than $57 million to thousands of Marines and their families.

“Rick inspires our entire elliptical biking community, and after months of planning, we’re excited to see him begin this epic trip,” said Pate. “We’ve had many athletes accomplish significant feats on an ElliptiGO – dozens of customers have completed 100-mile century rides, ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes rode an ElliptiGO from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2010, and one customer rode from Canada to Mexico, so we understand the many challenges he will face. After all his training and preparation, we are confident Rick is ready to accomplish this feat and become a part of the history of elliptical biking.”

Rick’s southern route across the U.S. will take him through South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Anyone interested in Rick’s trek and where he will be each day can follow him on his 100 Days for the Corps blog: www.100daysforthecorps.wordpress.com. Donations to the Semper Fi Fund in Rick’s name can be made on his fundraising page: http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=178860

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