Five to take on trek for homeless vets

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JANESVILLE — Five men will be abusing their bodies and testing their limits to benefit Rock Valley Community Programs (RVCP) Homeless Veterans Transitional Living Program.

Rock Valley Community Programs Residential Re-entry Program Residential Services Assistant Director Joel Galvan along with Nick Brockley, Rob Phipps, Ross Silvers and Jared Rahberg will brave the Frozen Otter Ultra Trek on Jan. 16 where they will be running through the snow and glacier-imprinted terrain of Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Galvan and Silvers will be the only veterans competing from RVCP. Galvan is a Marine Corps veteran and Ross is Air Force veteran.

“We want get the wold out how much of an issue homelessness is among our veteran population,” Galvan said.

Housing4OurVets is a 48-bed transitional living shelter for homeless veterans, or veterans at risk of becoming homeless in all of Wisconsin, parts of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

The five will run in a 24-hour race covering 64 miles of hills. Because of the short time frame of the competition and the potential for deep snow, they won’t be able to rest on the arduous journey.

Those competing can only use what they can carry with them and the clothes they are wearing to survive for 24 hours. Only 25 percent of the 125 participants complete the toughest race in the Midwest, with 50 percent of participants bowing out after the third checkpoint, at 24 miles. Runners are prohibited from using cross country skis or snowshoes.

Last year a group of vets took on the Frozen Otter and raised almost $23,000 for Housing4OurVets in Janesville. Those who want to donate can go to www.gofundme.com and type in “Housing4OurVets.” The first year the group raised $12,000.

Last year Galvan was the only veteran to compete from RVCP. He completed 40 miles of the 64 miles both times he raced. Unfortunately, last year he said he developed tendinitis. Galvan is hoping this year he will finally complete the race.

Galvan said the race is grueling, hard on the body and mentally exhausting. However, he’s willing to do it in order to get more donations for Housing4OurVets.

“We’ll do the leg work and you make a contribution,” Galvan said.

Galvan said Brockley will be competing for the second year. The other three will be new to the Otter this year.

Although the newbies are confident, Galvan said they’ve heard the “horror stories” of it from the other runners.

“We all went into it pretty confident and got pretty significant reality checks,” he said.

The race starts at about 10 a.m. with plenty of other runners. However, within a few hours runners are in the pitch black dark in the woods - alone, hungry and cold. It can be difficult to stay hydrated as the water bottles freeze.

“You start to wonder if you are the only person out there,” Galvan said.

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