Running a marathon carrying a weight on your shoulders

Will Kocken, in red shirt, prepares for a world record-setting marathon run with help from...
Will Kocken, in red shirt, prepares for a world record-setting marathon run with help from Jason Braun, in gray (WBAY photo)(WBAY)
Published: Apr. 20, 2018 at 4:37 PM CDT
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Most of us would probably agree running a full, 26.2-mile marathon is a grueling task. Now imagine doing it carrying 100 pounds of extra weight strapped to your back.

An Ashwaubenon runner is on a mission to do just that, setting a new world record and helping veterans in the process.

Friday's sunny skies and clear trails were perfect conditions for Will Kocken and Jason Braun to squeeze in a 16-mile training run, but that alone would be too easy for these two endurance athletes.

"Will and I became friends years ago over a mutual love for suffering," Braun said, "so these sort of things actually get us going."

One night more than a year ago, as they were trying to come up with a new fundraiser for veterans and set a Guinness world record, they crafted a plan.

"The way to do that is through something ridiculous like a 100-pound rucksack for a marathon," Kocken said.

Kocken chose the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon which takes place in May.

He's logged at least 450 miles since January, never deviating from training, running 20 miles in the snow Monday morning.

Braun and other friends keep him company on his 2 A.M. runs.

"My job is to give him motivation, one way or another," Braun said.

"You can call it a creative idea," Kocken said. "Some people call it crazy or stupid, whatever you want to call it, but it's more about raising funds to help more veterans than it is about being breaking the world record."

Kocken is in the National Guard and co-founded 4th Hooah Wisconsin, a non-profit that raises money for veterans and awareness about mental health and suicide (


He hopes to raise $10,000 running the Cellcom marathon.

"It's a testament to everything the human body can do, and one of the things I want to do is inspire people through this," Kocken said.

Friday morning he had his pack officially weighed: 101.6 pounds.

With that weight, he's hoping pack #4 holds up through race day.

"It's designed to haul an elk, essentially, off the side of a Colorado Rocky Mountain."

There will be sore joints, blisters and chafing.

"Blood will be shed," Braun said. "There's no getting around it."

But they're confident Kocken can break the current Guinness world record of 6 hours, 47 minutes, 3 seconds.

"It's the second 13 where you figure out who you are and where you came from," said Kocken, "and the big thing you just keep telling yourself is don't quit, this is bigger than yourself."