Runner Visits Listening Area on 1,776 Mile Virginia Trek


A runner in Highland County on Sunday afternoon wasn’t going out on a normal workout routine.  In fact, he was getting closer to the halfway point of a goal of 1, 776 miles on an 81-day journey through every county in Virginia.  That runner is Ivan Raiklin.  He is a member of the Army National Guard and has served as a Green Beret, military diplomat, foreign affairs specialist and intelligence officer.  He tells us more about the reason behind this long trip.

He says, “I’m running and running and running and running.  The goal is to get to 1,776 miles, and I’m running twenty-two miles a day, and that represents the twenty-two veterans that die by suicide every day.  It’s a tough topic to talk about, but, you know, there’s a lot of TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury, and posttraumatic stress that happens from whether you’re blown up in combat or just from the stressors of seeing traumatic events when you’re deployed as a military service member, and I just wanted to bring awareness that twenty-two is a huge number, and I’m running twenty-two miles a day, day in and day out.

“It’s a grind.  I gotta tell you this.  I mean, twenty-two miles a day is a significant impact on the body.  So trail running is a lot easier on the body because of the varied terrain, but additionally, the goal is also to engage with people, so you don’t really interact with too many people on the trail.  I mean, sometimes some of the trails you do, but we balance that out with going in to towns and interacting with people.  To me, I love the people.  Like, I love the human engagement and interaction.  That’s bar none, better.”

Mr. Raiklin started out on August 23rd symbolically in Mt. Vernon, which is the home of George Washington.  Many numbers and dates of the run were chosen for a significant reason.  He says, “August 23rd in 1775, before our nation was formed, King George over there in England decided the rebellion was gettin’ a little out of hand and that he was going to take it seriously and try to combat the rebellion, meaning the colonies, right, in the United States, and so that’s the day of significance where I wanted to use that date that we’re going to collectively take the suicide issue seriously, and then we were originally going to finish on November 11th, which is Veterans Day.  The numbers turned out just perfect, serendipity.  From August 23rd to November 11th, it actually calculates up to 1,782 miles, if I were to do twenty-two that last day, but still, it adds up to 1,776 to be symbolic, but I was recalled as a member of the Texas National Guard during Hurricane Harvey for two weeks, so now, symbolically, we’ll end on November 11th in Arlington, near Arlington National Cemetery, but I still have two weeks to make up for the two weeks I had to go down to Hurricane Harvey to finish off 1,776 miles, so just trying to serve and along the way, trying to raise awareness and potentially raise some funds for a good cause.”

If folks would like to learn more or donate to Mr. Raiklin’s cause, they can visit .  He explains, “The first twenty-two dollars that people donate, if you’re in a position where you can, goes to five veteran charities that are helping fight PTSD within our Force, so Green Beret Foundation, Task Force Dagger, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, and Victory For Veterans.  As I’m running through the state, a lot of people ask me this same question, like, ‘Where are you at?  How many miles have you run?’ but just to put things in perspective, like, I don’t think about it in miles, and each mile represents a veteran that died by suicide, so I’m doing my part, so if you guys want to join up and help with that issue, I’d appreciate your help.”

Mr. Raiklin continues on, having traveled through Bath County on Monday.  In conclusion, he also acknowledges that he couldn’t do the run all by himself, giving credit to his wife and his team of Jazmin Perez, Patrick Krason, Hassan Sheikh and Eric Bideganeta to help him stay committed.



Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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