If Pete Kostelnick had a dollar for every “Forrest Gump” reference he’s heard recently, he’d be able to treat himself to a very nice post-run dinner. But it probably comes with the territory when you’re attempting to break the world record for running across the U.S. from San Francisco to New York City. As of October 6, the 2016 and 2015 Badwater 135 champion has logged 1747.8 total miles and is averaging 70 miles a day — that’s a little less than running three marathons a day for six weeks straight. Now he’s poised to run through his home state of Iowa and the latter half of his epic race. If all goes to plan, Kostelnick will finish in NYC on October 25, 2016 and set a new world record for running the 3,100 miles in 44 days.
After getting into running to lose some college weight, Kostelnick’s first goal was to finish the Marine Corps Marathon; the next was to qualify and complete the Boston Marathon, which he did in 2010. Pretty soon, Kostelnick was running ultra marathons and then ultra ultra marathons. Flash forward to 2016 and Kostelnick already has running career highlights that lifelong runners could only dream of, including running 423 miles across Iowa in seven days; bagging 163 miles in the 2015 Desert Solstice Track Invitational; and setting a new course record of 21:56:32 at the 2016 STYR Labs Badwater 135. As a Lincoln, Nebraska resident, however, achieving a PR at the Lincoln Marathon was also pretty memorable.
After you’ve done some of the toughest races in the world, attempting to break the record for running across the U.S. seems to be the next “logical” step. The current Guinness World Record of 46 days, 8 hours, 36 minutes, set by Frank Giannino Jr. in 1980, has stood for 36 years, though several people have attempted to beat it.
Like the fictitious Gump, Kostelnick isn’t covering these miles alone. His support crew helps with logistics and supplies, massage and medical care, and nutrition, and friends and strangers alike are welcome to join for a few or several miles.