Kocken to attempt world record at Cellcom Marathon
By Ben Rodgers
GREEN BAY – A Hobart native will attempt to break a Guinness World Record with the goal of raising awareness and funds to help veterans.
Will Kocken will attempt to run the 26.2 miles that make up the Cellcom Marathon in under 6:47:03 while carrying 100 pounds on his back.
“The main reason is to raise money for HOOAH (Helping Out Our American Heroes),” Kocken said. “The second reason is to inspire others that they can do something bigger than themselves.”
Kocken, 34, grew up in Hobart and graduated from West De Pere High School in 2003.
But before he graduated, Kocken committed to the Army National Guard where he is still employed to this day.
In addition to being a full-time Sgt. 1st Class, Kocken is also president of the Wisconsin Chapter of HOOAH, an organization he co-founded in the state with Nick Gries.
The organization is run by volunteers and donates funds to the King Veterans Home, installs and repairs furnaces for veterans, takes them skydiving and scuba diving, helps train service dogs and more.
Last year HOOAH helped close to 3,400 veterans and donated nearly $35,000 to the veterans home in King.
“It’s important that we’re able to give back 100 percent of that money,” Kocken said. “It’s super important veterans are taken care of and we provide them the means for better health and better lives.”
The Cellcom Marathon will be Hocken’s sixth marathon with weight on his back, but he has never done an event with as much as 100 pounds.
The weight he will run with is the heaviest amount covered by Guinness World Records.
“There’s something about the toughest record for marathon distance,” Kocken said. “It’s the record I want to use as a fundraising platform.”
He started training for this 18 months ago, with more dedicated training starting five months ago.
Kocken runs between 40 and 50 miles a week now, sometimes with weight, sometimes without.
In order to break the record he will need to run at a pace of 15:32 per mile, but he is aiming for a pace of 14:14.
“That will hopefully provide the cushion required for when I fall apart, because it’s not if you fall apart but when in this game,” he said. “The goal is to get to mile 22 before the fall apart happens.”
Kocken said his goals with helping veterans with HOOAH and attempting to break a world record are similar.
“This is a difficult task, but it’s not impossible,” he said. “You need to stay on focus, not break down, stay tough and mentally unbreakable.”
Because running with 100 pounds on your back can be dangerous, Kocken has a training partner in Jason Braun.
“I’m the voice of unreason,” Braun said. “I’m the guy Will brings bad ideas to because I don’t have the judgment, and will jump into it with him.”
Braun said Kocken’s drive and determination is inspiring, especially when the two are running the streets of Green Bay with 100 pounds on their backs.
“The guy is a force of nature, he just wills things into existence,” Braun said. “Most people come up with an idea or a theory and he just goes and does it.”
To make a donation to support Kocken’s efforts and HOOAH, visit hooahinc.org/4th-hooah-wisconsin/.
The Cellcom Marathon starts at 7 a.m. on May 20.
Kocken will be the guy carrying 100 pounds and running in boots to honor all veterans, past and present.
“Breaking the world record is the icing on the cake,” he said. “If I go out and raise a bunch of money and help people, then I’ve won.”