BOURNE (CBS) – Josh Milich and Brian Tjersland are both ultra-runners who have finished 100 mile marathons. Now, they are attempting to do something even more extreme on Veterans Day – a 500-mile run.
They left the Massachusetts National Cemetery on Cape Cod Monday and will run all the way to the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, averaging about two marathons a day for 11 days in a row. Their goal is to raise awareness about veteran suicide.
“The whole point of the 500 miles was to do something so ridiculous it would force people to look,” said Milich. “So when people ask, ‘Why are you guys running 500 miles? We’ll say we’re doing it for Mission 22.”
Mission 22 is an organization that provides treatment to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“They go over and put themselves at risk for us and they come back and don’t know how to ask for help and they really need to know there are people out there to support them,” said Tjersland.
According to Mission 22, more than 20 veterans take their own lives every day.
“I currently serve and I didn’t know that,” said Milich. “That’s the purpose is to let people know there is a problem and let’s all help fix it.”
Josh is in the Coast Guard based in New Bedford. Brian is a real estate appraiser. They connected through a running app earlier this year and that’s when this unlikely pair decided to turn their passion into a bigger purpose.
“When we do these big races, 100 miles, 50 miles, they’re selfish. They’re all about us wanting to complete something,” said Milich. “So we wanted to do something that we could use this unique level of fitness for to give back.”
Josh and Brian hope that as they head south people will join them along the way, whether it’s just for a mile or for a whole day. They plan to have a GPS tracker with them so that you can see where they are and follow them on their journey. They’re planning to arrive at Arlington National Cemetery on November 22. For more about their run, visit Mission 22.