Pete Kostelnick is enjoys running … a lot. In a trip he’s calling, “Ke2Key: Unlocking my Wildest Dream,” he is running from Kenai, Alaska, to Key West, Fla.
In 2016, he already broke the record for fastest time to run across America. It took him 42 days to run from San Francisco to New York City, a nearly 3,100-mile trip. This trip from Alaska to Florida? 5,200 miles.
His supplies in the cart he brings include food, water, Gatorade, toiletries, five changes of laundry, bear spray, a tent and water bladders.
“I always dreamed of running across the U.S. to see the sights and enjoy it. This run is about that. It’s still a really big challenge to run 50 to 60 miles on average a day,” said Kostelnick.
“When I was a kid, my family and I drove to Alaska, so being able to run from Alaska to Florida is the ultimate dream to me.”
The passion and intensity for running simply started with a desire to get in shape for Kostelnick.
“I started running just to get in shape, didn’t really care about racing or anything like that. Then over the years it just kinda migrated from one thing to the next.”
“Lately it’s been a chance to go places, see things and meet people. It’s just become a such a big part of my life.”
The Boone, Iowa, native has had a chance to see quite a few things on his trip so far, Kostelnick even stopped in West Fargo to visit his friend Matt Johnson, the North Dakota State University women’s golf coach on Sept. 27.
His favorite thing during this run has been seeing the difference in views when traveling.
“Seeing some of the mountains in Alaska. The glaciers, big rivers, lakes and the ocean starting out was really awesome, then along the way seeing the landscape change from lots of forests from Yukon and B.C. (British Columbia) and now more in the plains, getting closer to where I grew up in Iowa.”
Kostelnick says the biggest challenge for him wasn’t necessarily the long distance running on his body, but a mix of the distance and the natural things he couldn’t avoid.
“I’ve had some rainy days. Cold, rainy days when you’re running 50 miles a day is pretty tough. Being out in the elements you become pretty vulnerable so you just have to keep moving.”
Kostelnick says the longest days were in Alaska and then in British Columbia when forest fires tore through the land.
“They actually shut the road down for a day or two when I was up there so that made it a little challenging to get through and try to make up the miles the next couple days. Some places in Alaska and Yukon, I was going six days without seeing any real towns or grocery store, so loading up groceries whenever I can has been a big thing.”
But he never lost his humor and enjoyment through the ups and downs.
“I’m planning this run to migrate with the weather. I knew Southern Canada and North Dakota might be a little cold, it will probably warm up here in a little bit so it won’t be a bad thing.”
His longest stretch on the trip has been 91 miles when traveling through Alaska, but an average daily trip will be about a 50-70 mile run, or 10 hours for him. While his feet hurt and he’s had a few challenges with his Achilles tendon in Alaska, the trip hasn’t been too much for Kostelnick.
“I’ve had a lot of great people reach out. A lot of times it might be a town over too far to get to their place, but especially lately I’ve had a lot of people had a lot of people coming out and running with me to, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
“It’s a journey of a lifetime, it’s a challenge with all of the running, it’s a challenge to find all of the food and supplies I need along the way, but to me it’s worth it. It’s been a great trip and I look forward to the rest of it.”
You can follow Kostelnick’s journey to Florida on his site Pete’s Feet Across America where he tracks every step of his journey and how long it takes him or his Facebook page.