When your husband tells you he wants to run a marathon, with zero running experience and forty pounds too much weight, you say no.\r\nBut not if your husband is Pete Ripmaster.\r\n\u201cI can tell him I\u2019m worried, but when Pete puts his mind to something, nothing and no one can stand in his way,\u201d says Kristen, Ripmaster\u2019s wife.\r\nRipmaster ran 26.2 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway by himself. For Ripmaster, that marathon in 2008 was just the start.\r\nOn February 28, 39-year-old Ripmaster also has permission from his wife to run 1,000 miles through the heart of Alaska in the dead of winter hauling a sled with all his gear. This will be Ripmaster\u2019s third start in the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Instead of running the 350 mile version of the race, as he has the past two years, Ripmaster will be among a handful of runners who will attempt the entire 1,000-mile historic dog sled route from Knik to Nome.\r\nLast year, no runners finished the unmarked race that crosses a portion of Alaska\u2019s vast interior. Since 2000, just 15 runners have crossed the 1,000-mile finish line. The last winner, in 2014, took 23 days.\r\nBut don\u2019t worry. Pete\u2019s ready.\r\nTo fully understand his commitment to lugging a sled in sub-zero condition across Seward\u2019s icebox, there\u2019s something you should know first about Ripmaster. He is used to defying the odds.\r\nAs a 20 year old, he got whipped into shape on a NOLS course in Alaska after earning a 0.5 GPA while living in a frat house at the University of Kansas.\r\n\r\n\u201cI didn\u2019t give a shit. I was a punk,\u201d says Ripmaster who grew up in the Detroit suburbs. \u201cThe instructors weren\u2019t easy on me. They said you have a lot of potential, but there\u2019s a lot to work on. By the end of the trip, I knew if I wanted something I had to work for it. It was very eye opening. That brought me to some beauty, and also made me realize I had to change.\u201d\r\nIt wouldn\u2019t be overnight, however. Ripmaster\u2019s pattern of heavy drinking got worse after losing his mom to cancer when he was 24.\r\n\u201cMy mom was my emotional stability. I wasn\u2019t afraid to tell her anything,\u201d explains Ripmaster. He moved to Telluride, Colorado after college where he skied, drank, and pretty much hit rock bottom. \u201cMy mom knew what made me tick and my faults. I held her hand when she passed. It was the hardest thing in my life.\u201d\r\nIn Telluride, he met his wife and moved to North Carolina in 2004 to be close to her family.\r\n\u201cFor some reason, she was willing to help me through it,\u201d he said. \u201cKristen brought me through some dark places. Somehow I got through it without hurting anyone else or myself. She\u2019s a huge piece of the puzzle.\u201d\r\nAnother piece was running.\r\nSoon after completing his impromptu DIY marathon on the Parkway, Ripmaster became addicted to the sport. Over the next five years he ran 50 marathons in 50 states and raised over $60,000 for cancer research to fulfill a promise he made to his mother in her final days.\r\nStill, Ripmaster says he was looking for something deeper, bigger, more intense.\r\nSo when Ripmaster read about the Iditarod footrace, he immediately sent an e-mail to the race director, at that time, Bill Merchant. Within minutes he got an email back.\r\n\u201cHe knew I was going to get my ass kicked, but he saw something in me that I didn\u2019t see in my own self,\u201d Ripmaster says.\r\nThat\u2019s pretty much how Merchant saw it too.\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve been dealing with people for a long, long time. Pete was raised old school\u2014I could tell from his e-mail,\u201d said Merchant, who picked Ripmaster from a long list of runner applications in a race where keeping all of your digits\u2014or your life\u2014is no guarantee.\r\n\u201cHe didn\u2019t have the qualifications of some of the other runners, but there was just something in his e-mail that I could tell about him. If I could explain it, I would. Pete\u2019s one seriously good egg.\u201d\r\nDespite Merchant\u2019s confidence, Ripmaster says, he did indeed get \u201chis ass handed\u201d to him.\r\nFrom the first hill, Ripmaster realized he was hauling about fifty pounds too much gear. He also veered twenty-five miles off course and spent the first night in a bivy on the side of a lake. And the spikes from his overly taut snowshoes blistered his feet.\r\n\u201cI was green,\u201d Ripmaster admits, yet he finished in 10 days, 6 hours, twelfth among twelve runners. \u201cI may not have a lot of sense, but I have a lot of mental toughness. I\u2019m not sure where it comes from, but I have that in spades.\u201d\r\nIn 2015, he knocked four days off his time and finished third.\r\nHe admits that while the run included moments of euphoria, more often than not, it\u2019s filled with despair. Ripmaster, who has struggled with depression his entire life, says those highs and lows on the trail are precisely why he runs.\r\n\u201cI typically hold all of my emotions in,\u201d says Ripmaster, who has struggled with depression as long as he can remember. \u201cThe only way I can feel free it is to let it out. That\u2019s why I run. It\u2019s mental health. I embrace the pain.\u201d\r\nKristen, his wife, agrees that running is meaningful to him.\r\n\u201cHe can get very deep within himself on runs. For Pete, it\u2019s a very spiritual experience,\u201d Kristen says. But most importantly, she added, it brings him joy.\r\nAdam Hill, a friend and running partner, says that running seems to help Ripmaster tackle life. \u201cHe really learns more about who he is each time out. Pete\u2019s not afraid to wear emotions on his sleeve.\u201d Or, added Hill, is he afraid to take on lofty goals.\r\nSo not only will he attempt to slog through 1,000 miles of ice and snow, he\u2019ll also aim to raise $44,000 for Hope Chest of Western North Carolina to support women living with cancer.\r\nRipmaster is well aware that he may not raise those funds, or even finish the race, but that\u2019s okay with him.\r\nLike in life, said Ripmaster, success and failure is yours alone.