HomeFitnessSuccess Stories › What Would Pete Do? 1,310 Miles With a Ripmaster

Running marathons is a challenge

Running. It sounds so easy. So simple. So natural. 

One step in front of the other at an accelerated rate. Arms swaying at your side. Easy peasy. Running is a natural human movement, slightly faster than walking. We should be able to run forever, floating across the earth.

So, what really happens when you run faster and start increasing distance? Your heart rate climbs, your legs tire and your body begins to fight back. Running distances creates bodily confusion. It's a challenge mentally and physically. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable.

So you train and make yourself stronger and fitter, challenging yourself, preparing for that fight. Most get injured, and some will quit while others endure. The odds are against all runners, but we continue to gamble. We set pace and set sail. Five miles, 10 miles, 15 miles, 33 miles.  

Setting goals and working like hell to achieve them -- that’s what Pete Ripmaster does. That’s what drives him. The word “quit” is only between Pete and Ripmaster in the dictionary. That’s about it.

So, what was Pete’s goal? In the last five years, Pete Ripmaster ran 50 marathons in 50 states, starting with no fitness base.  

Who is Pete Ripmaster and why would he do this? Let’s discuss.

Pete set a goal to run 50 marathons in 50 states while raising money for cancer research. On August 10th, 2013 he will complete his last marathon, number 50. Pete lost his mother to cancer, and this is his method to fight back. To give back. To achieve what others had told him was not possible. He has raised over $50,000 and can be viewed at www.ripmaster50.com.

Let’s look at the math:

  • Fifty marathons. That’s 1,310 racing miles, folks. We won’t even count the ultra marathons to keep it simple.  
  • The average runner will train 40 miles each week leading up to a marathon. In five years, that puts Pete's running miles near the 10,400 mile mark. Or just about the distance from New York to Australia.
  • Back that up to the five-year start and that equals 5.7 miles per day, or .23 miles per hour.
  • 0.5% of the U.S. population has run one marathon. I will let you do the math for 50 marathons.

Family health is importantHow did Pete do this?  Great question.

  • Pete has never had a serious injury. Seventy percent of runners are injured or will be injured each year, unable to run. That’s a yearly figure, so extrapolate for five years.
  • Pete has never had a DNF (did not finish) in any marathon. (Albeit, he did have one in his first ultra marathon after he was given laced electrolyte tabs. A good story, so ask Pete about this one after a few beers.)
  • Pete has hobbled to finish lines in six hours, and qualified for the Boston Marathon, which requires a 7:00 minute/mile pace for someone his age.  
  • Pete traveled to each state on his own dime and his own time.
  • Pete has a family: a hard-working wife and two beautiful girls.
  • Pete operates a “running” retail store, which he started from scratch.
  • Pete does not have a coach. He set his own goals and surrounds himself with over-achievers.
  • Pete finishes the race on whatever God gives him that day.
  • Pete is simply a machine.

That’s what Pete did.

Life Lessons and the Mantra of Pete

I laid in the woods… motionless… listening to the high-mountain air. My legs continued to cramp and the pain was now going into my back. I sat on a rock with my legs in the air, just trying to regroup… just trying to find a solution. I had lost my training group about five miles back as I completely imploded. This was now my second stop in as many miles. I was in trouble.

It was my first serious uphill road bike climb up Mt. Lemmon in Arizona. It was an 80-mile bike ride that included a 27-mile steady uphill climb for 5,000 vertical feet. I had the flu the week before and knew it would be tough  I didn’t know I might not make it. I did not expect it to hurt this bad.

I was beat down, depleted and in serious pain. I was alone and would be for hours. I considered catching a ride back and calling it quits. I needed a mantra. I needed a Ripmaster.

What Would Pete Do?

Pete would regroup and get back on his feet with all of the power he had left. Pedaling slowly and counting feet rather than miles. Inch by inch. Building strategically into a faster pace and ignoring the pain across the body. He would send his brain into a different stratosphere. He would think about his mom. He would call upon her to give him strength.

That’s what Pete does.

I made it the top and back down that day. The next day I returned to that same spot. This time was easy. This time would not be my last.


I gazed out the hospital window at Pike's Peak when the doctor called me in. She updated me that my mother had completed surgery and was in the recovery room.

A year prior my mom had been diagnosed with stage 2 colo-rectal cancer. After radiation and chemo she had opted for a surgery, which would remove two feet of her colon. This was the best chance for her to remove the cancer. It was a brutal surgery, however, and it would be rough.

The doctor walked me into the recovery room and pointed to a chair next to my mom. She lay motionless on the bed with only a slight gesture at my arrival. Next to the chair, the doctor pointed to a trigger button, which was tied to a bag next to her bedside.

The doctor told me that I could, if I chose to, administer the morphine to my mom as she needed it. I sat frozen and stared at the trigger button. My job was pain-relief in the minutes and hours after my mom's surgery. I was simply shell-shocked, struggling to see my mom in pain like this.  

I needed a guide. I needed a Ripmaster.

What would Pete do?

Pete would take a breath and focus, sending a mental beam down his body, centering himself to the task at hand. He would remove any other fears or thoughts. This was his job and he was here to complete it. Pete would pray that he had this chance with his own mom. He would pray that he could help her recover.  

That’s what Pete does.

That day I sat for hours in that room with my mom, giving her morphine as she needed. She recovered, and had surgery again four months later. That was four years ago, and all is well with her today. She will be at the finish line for Pete’s 50th marathon.


Ripmaster with a friendly wave during a runLooking back, Pete’s early races were not beautiful. In fact, I was not sure how he finished some of them. But he did and he did it with belief from his heart. What he lacked in training, he made up for in mental strength.  

I remember he came to visit us in Minnesota to run the Twin Cities Marathon – race No. 19-ish, state No. 17. He stayed at our house and I watched him prepare for the race. We hit the expo, picking up his registration and visiting the various booths. You see, if you hang with Pete Ripmaster, good things will happen -- it’s a guarantee. People, places and things just come to him naturally -- like a human magnet or an aura engineer. That day it was the main contact from the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Pete proudly shared his story and his plan. She and I listened and understood the mission. We were both on board.

We knew what Pete would do.  

That night he carefully laid out his gear, bib, shoes, nutrition, iPod and hat. He stared at the setup, applying internal audits so he wouldn't forget anything. His years of mountaineering taught him to be prepared from an equipment standpoint.

To that point, I had only run a half marathon… once. I had watched marathons as a kid, seeing my parents complete the 26.2 miles in running and various triathlons. Endurance racing seemed far away. Unattainable. I proudly cheered on as a spectator.

I caught Pete at mile 16, which runs along the Mississippi River. He looked pretty spent, but he was in a zone, in almost a different state of mind. I ran with him for a bit and everything checked out.

I met him at the finish line and it was just another day at the office for him. He chowed down some post-race food, grabbed his medal and we set off back home.  

In the car, Pete looked beat up. His face was covered in salt and he couldn’t drink enough water. I spoke to him about the race and he fell silent.

With Pete, Marathon State 28 in Oregon at the finish line

What did Pete do?

Pete stopped me and told me to pull over. He opened the door and proceeded to throw up all over downtown Minneapolis. He closed the door to the car, looked at me and said, “I needed that,” and continued his mission, catching a flight back home that night.  One more state completed.

That’s what Pete does.

One year later I ran that same marathon in the Cities. I then joined Pete in Oregon for state marathon No. 28. I have completed many trail races, triathlons and now half iron mans. Endurance racing is a part of me now. I will join him Colorado for race No. 50. I have not trained specifically for the race. I don’t need to. I have Pete with me.

I think of Pete often in training and in difficult situations at home or even at work. He is part friend and part mantra. A voice in your head when you need it. An internal Chi. A simple reminder that anything is possible.  

I invite you to add Pete to your own life. Add it to your family’s goals and struggles. Implement it at home, at work or on the playing field. Whether you run or not, apply a Ripmaster to your stress and simply ask yourself, “What would Pete do?”  

Then follow the next steps. You will get there.

That's what Pete does.


Remember, you can support the Ripmaster's amazing journey and learn more about his story at www.ripmaster50.com.

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