Aledo man honoring memory of loved ones while running ultramarathons

Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 12:57 AM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Ryan Koresko wasn’t always a runner.

“I struggled with living a healthy lifestyle for most of my life” said Koresko, who decided to make a change after high school and college. “I ran like every day, just kind of obsessed about it and lost a ton of weight”.

Koresko lost more than 100 pounds and was running farther than he ever thought possible.

“100 miles was never even something I knew people did”.

Koresko is an ultra runner. He’s run three 100-mile races.

“You try not to think about what you’re doing because if you think about what you’re doing and how much further you have to go, it’s gonna be a long day,” Koresko said.

A long day quite literally. It takes Koresko about 24 hours to run the 100 miles. It’s a lot of time with just his thoughts and distant memories of one of his biggest inspirations.

“My dad was a farmer and a truck driver and a really special member of the community,” Koresko said. “He was one of those guys that when it snowed he was doing everybody else’s driveway before he did ours in his little tractor he would go up and down the street and do everyone’s driveway.”

When Koresko was ten years old, his father was diagnosed with ALS.

“My dad was the hardest worker in the world and to watch him get to that point of not being able to do anything for himself. Unfortunately, those are some of the stronger memories still,” Koresko said.

Nine months after the diagnosis, Koresko’s father passed away.

“My grandpa was right there from the moment that it happened until the time that he died. He stepped in those shoes you know immediately and filled them better than anyone ever could of,” Koresko said.

Now Koresko is a father of two, emulating the love he received from his father and grandfather.

“I was really lucky that those were the people you know those were the men I can model my life after, model the way I treat other people after,” Koresko said.

They’re the men that are with Koresko for every mile he runs.

“I can distinctly remember one moment in this last race in April where I was going up this steep climb and it’s like you’re having those negative thoughts and I’m like I can’t do this this is way too hard I have so far to go still and then you’re like he couldn’t even walk,” Koresko said.

Around Koresko’s wrist every time he runs, is a keepsake of his father.

“When he would come in from the fields and take off his boots on the steps, he’d have this red bandanna in his back pocket,” Koresko said.

That red bandanna has been on Koresko’s arm for thousands of miles he’s run across the country.

“You’re loved ones are always with you, right? In here but I wanted to be able to like carry him, I wanted to be able to just kind of take him with me so to speak,” Koresko said.

Koresko’s dad is always with him and so too is his grandfather, thanks to a touching gift from Koresko’s wife.

“The summer before my grandpa passed, they used to give cards, you know every grandparent sends a card,” Koresko said. “So they both signed it and it’s you know the Hallmark card that has the message on the side and you don’t always read that part but you know it’s probably very nice but you always look for what does the person say and all they would ever sign was grandma and grandpa and so before that first 100-mile race she had went and took that last card that I ever got from them cut out the part where they put their names and then cut out these small tidbits from the message part and laminated it and now I take that on every race.”

It’s not always easy to keep going. From going the distance, Koresko has found strength and peace.

“It probably sounds weird but I talk to him you know especially when it’s really hard I talk for miles a lot of times just about how hard it is,” Koresko said. “It has given me like way more than I could have asked for like I’m the dad that I’m supposed to be when I’m healthy and I’m healthy when I’m training and I’m in a good place with running. because it’s almost to a point where if I don’t run if I take a break after a race after awhile I gotta get back out there.”

Because when he’s out there, Koresko is with the two men he hopes can see just how far he’s come.

“My mom used to always say and I think it’s a fairly common saying if you see a Cardinal sitting out in your backyard you know that’s a loved one to say hi. I can’t tell you the last run I had morning, race, anything, just a regular training run, that I haven’t seen a Cardinal.”