Updated May 25, 2020 - 12:29 pm
Peter Makredes overcame extreme exhaustion and very sore feet on Memorial Day in southwest Las Vegas to complete 100 miles in support of veterans.
Makredes crossed the finish line at Exploration Peak Park, 9275 S. Buffalo Drive, shortly before 9 a.m. The feat concluded nearly 25 hours straight of running and walking around the half-mile loop of the park.
“I just feel that we owe a lot to our veteran community to enjoy the freedoms that we do in this country,” Makredes said. “I just feel they shouldn’t have to come home and fight battles.”
Makredes put himself through the grueling endeavor to benefit the nonprofit Mission 22, which supports veterans struggling with mental illness. The nonprofit also works to prevent veteran suicide. By the time he crossed the finish line, Makredes had raised more than $15,100.
“I feel good,” Makredes said Monday morning. “Well, not as good as I felt yesterday. Just put one foot in front of the other. Dehydration. Joint pain. Tendon pain. Muscle soreness.”
Makredes, 28, had a strong show of support from family and friends. His mom and stepdad, Sue and Ron Santrach of Minneapolis, spent the night at the park, as did members of his local rugby team, Las Vegas Irish.
“We got out here about 7 a.m. yesterday, and he started at 8 a.m. yesterday,” Sue Santrach said Monday. “I did take a nap, and my husband took a nap, but Pete has just kept going. He’s just very purposeful, and he thinks this is a really great cause. He has to plan out his meals because he has to eat about 11,000 calories in 24 hours.”
Ron Santrach said he was incredibly proud of his stepson.
“It’s pleasurable but painful at the same time,” Ron Santrach said. “It’s great to see someone this young really committed to doing something for veterans, but it is painful to watch.”
Makredes promoted the run for months. A banner at the park encouraged people to donate to Mission 22.
Brenda Fuhreng and Terry Hizon read about the efforts of Makredes in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. They stopped by the park early Monday to get some recreation and make a donation to the nonprofit.
“Amazing,” Fuhreng said. “I think it is wonderful to do it for a greater cause.”
Earl Britos is a member of the Las Vegas Irish Rugby Football Club who showed up to support his friend.
“It takes an extraordinary person to put himself through this,” Britos said. “I couldn’t do 100 miles in a week if I was hiking.”
This is not the first time Makredes carried out endurance running to support veterans. He previously ran 80 miles along the California coast. Last year, he ran 88 miles at another Las Vegas park, but this year he wanted to push himself even more.
On this Memorial Day weekend, he circled the park time and again until 100 miles were under his belt.
He said helping veterans with mental health, and preventing suicide, is a noble cause he will continue to pursue.
Makredes is not a veteran, but some of his friends were in the armed forces. And he has never personally known a veteran who died by suicide, but he has heard their stories.
According to the most recent data from the Veterans Affairs Department, 6,139 veterans in the U.S. died by suicide in 2017. Of those deaths, 116 were in Nevada.
Where to get help
— National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255.
— Veterans Crisis Line, 800-273-8255, and press 1, or visit veteranscrisisline.net.
— Hope Means Nevada, hopemeansnevada.org.
To donate to Mission 22, visit mission22.com.