Updated May 25, 2020 - 11:58 am
Peter Makredes plans to spend 24 hours running the length of nearly four marathons during Memorial Day weekend, going around and around a southwest Las Vegas Valley park.
He isn’t training for an elite athletic competition or trying to bring attention to himself. The 28-year-old is attempting to run 100 miles to raise money to help reduce the number of veteran suicides.
“The mileage is not really important,” Makredes said Sunday afternoon while taking a break to change his socks and shoes after he reached 32 miles. “People wouldn’t care if I just ran a 5K.”
Starting at 8 a.m. Sunday at Exploration Peak Park, 9275 S. Buffalo Drive, Makredes planned to run until 8 a.m. Monday. He has been promoting his run on social media for months, and a banner at the park encouraged people to donate to Mission 22, a nonprofit that supports veterans with mental illness and works to prevent veteran suicide.
As of about 5 p.m., Makredes had raised $13,685 for the organization, the most he has raised since starting his fundraiser two years ago.
When he started, in San Diego, he 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.
“The more important number to me was the 24 hours,” he said, which represented Makredes “sacrificing just one day of my time a year.”
Makredes’ parents sat in lawn chairs next to a cooler and containers labeled “Peter’s food.” To run more than three marathons, Makredes said he needed to eat about 11,000 calories.
Sue and Ron Santrach, who flew to Las Vegas from Minnesota to support their son, said they planned to stay up all night to help Makredes, passing him water and food while he runs half-mile loops.
When asked why her son would choose to run 100 miles to raise money, Sue Santrach laughed and recounted asking him the same question.
“He goes, ‘Well, you have to make it hurt,’ ” she said.
Makredes, a Summerlin resident, said he started training for his Memorial Day weekend fundraiser months ago. He also plays for the Las Vegas Irish Rugby Football Club and works as a survey pilot.
He’s not a veteran, and other than two grandfathers who served, he doesn’t have veterans in his family. Some of his friends were in the armed forces, but he has never personally known a veteran who died by suicide.
Instead, he hears the stories from others, including from veterans who stopped by the table next to his parents to talk.
“It’s such a huge issue among the veteran community right now, and it doesn’t get a lot of publicity,” he said, later adding, “I feel like I couldn’t do anything in my life unless these veterans were served.”
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.
Wearing his red work uniform and a pair of khakis, security officer Louis Amalaman ran one loop with Makredes during his break Sunday afternoon. The two men ran in direct sunlight, passing families sitting in the grass and celebrating the long weekend.
Amalaman said his brother served in the Army for 12 years, and he recognized the serious issue for which Makredes was running.
“It’s not easy for somebody going to war and coming back,” Amalaman said, wiping sweat off his forehead.
Although his rugby teammates planned to come support him Sunday evening, Makredes said even if he had to run alone, he had no doubt he would reach his goal.
“Just trying to make the world a little bit better,” he said, preparing to run another lap.
This story has been updated to include the correct day that Makredes was interviewed.
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.