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Minnesotan runs 250-mile race to raise money for Navy SEALs and families

Minnesotan runs 250-mile race to raise money for Navy SEALs and families
Minnesotan runs 250-mile race to raise money for Navy SEALs and families 03:56

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — Emily Kratz, 45, is a premier ultra-endurance athlete who's dedicated her latest race to helping military families.

Kratz just finished the Cocodona 250 in Phoenix. It's a 250-mile run, which is a marathon nine times over and then some, in the span of five days.

"We basically ran from Phoenix to Flagstaff," Kratz said. "The first day was the hardest. That had a lot of climbing, very exposed, out in Phoenix, it was hot. You really had to control your effort because you have like literally four days left."

While Kratz is a seasoned endurance athlete — earlier this year she finished the Arrowhead 150 race across northern Minnesota — the Cocodona was the longest she's run in one go. And with a peak of 40,000 feet, it's also the highest.

"I think for me, it's just testing my limits. Really just seeing what I'm capable of, and really challenging myself," she said.

A challenge she accepted with a calling – she ran the race in conjunction with the SEAL Family Foundation. The organization helps support Navy SEALS and their families during deployment, a mission Kratz is passionate about.

"While our men are out there protecting us, we'll helping protect and take care of their families so they can focus on that," she said.

Emily Kratz WCCO

Fittingly enough, as Kratz put one foot in front of the other, active Navy SEALS — and even the mother of a Navy SEAL — supported her during the race, keeping her pace and company.  

"It was great to just talk with them about like what goes through their minds during Hell Week and kind of the adventures, per se, that they go on, which have a lot higher stakes than what I'm doing," Kratz said. "And just the sacrifices that they make every day, which kind of made this a lot more meaningful for me as well."

The trails didn't come without trials, but Kratz still finished the Cocodona 250 in just under 92 hours and on less than 90 minutes of sleep.

"There's times where your body's not going to want to move and you're super sore and you don't think you can, but it's just less thinking, more doing, and you just start," Kratz said.

Kratz said lack of sleep even causes hallucinations at times.

"You just focus on the next aid station or you focus on the next mile," she said. "Eventually all that stuff adds up."

In total, Kratz has raised more than $33,000 for the Seal Family Foundation, but there's still time to donate. Kratz has a personal goal of $50,000. 

Kratz is already planning her next ultramarathon. She'll head to run a 200-mile trek in Italy this fall.

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