5 Questions – Pete Kostelnick

This weekend was the 41st running of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. Pete Kostelnick ran the race eight years ago to lose weight. Since then he has been quite an journey – most recently, winning Badwater twice, (setting a course record this year) and  winning the Desert Solstice 24 Hour Race that placed him as the first qualifier for the US National 24 Hour Team.  Oh, and last week he set a new Guinness record that has held for 36 years.

On Monday, October 24, 2016 5:30 pm ET, Pete Kostelnick, made his way up the New York City Hall steps completing a 3,067 mile journey.  These last few steps marked a new Guinness record for the fastest crossing of America.  42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes after leaving San Francisco (on Monday, September 12th at 11:am EST), Pete arrived in NYC to hugs and cheers from his family and friends.  He also received the baton from Frank Giannino, who held the previous record (46 days, 8 hours and 36minutes).

Below are our “5 Questions”and Pete’s responses:

US24HR: What were your favorite moments from your race across America?

PK (Pete Kostelnick): “There were so many moments as I reflect on those 42 days (and 8 hours and 30 minutes), but I would have to say running thru the snow on a mountain pass in Utah; running thru Grant, Nebraska on the far west part of the state where it seemed like the whole town came out to cheer me on and run with me were highlights.  I also really enjoyed running thru my most recent residence of Lincoln, NE and thru my home town of Boone, IA.  Running with Dave McGillivray (Boston Race Director, who also made the USA crossing) on my second to last day,  finally seeing the New York City skyline as I crossed the George Washington Bridge and receiving the baton from Frank Giannino were also very special moments that I will never forget.” 

US24HR:  Was there a time that you had doubt you would be able to accomplish this goal and was there a moment when you KNEW you would accomplish it?

PK: “The only time I had any doubt was when I had to take a day off (day 7) due to some painful tendonitis in the ankle/shin area. However, looking back on that day, I was still fairly confident overall. There was one other moment at the end of day two just west of Yosemite where I was told I still had another mile or two to go up a steep road. I tossed my water bottle and was devastated for a few moments. Zandy Mangold took a photo that captured it perfectly! I did get up and finish a few more miles up the mountain.

One moment that marked my confidence that I could break the record was during my 75 miles on day 14 in eastern Utah.  It was then I was starting to finally feel “broken in” to the daily grind and routine, and that I would definitely stay on track if nothing out of the ordinary happened.”


US24HR: Ultra running continues to grow in popularity. What advice to you have for those considering an ultra?

PK:  “For me, it’s been quantity over quality. I have seen a direct correlation in my performance with avg weekly mileage in training. It takes time to build up to without getting injured, but I always tell runners to lean towards slower and longer training sessions than faster and shorter for ultras. Also, I think it is certainly a sport that favors patience and experience. Don’t be afraid to sign up for some races that you know you won’t be fully prepared for. The experience will work wonders for your body’s ability to adapt to the mileage, and maybe most importantly, your stomach’s ability to turn over food into energy well.”

US24HR:  Was it strange waking up in NYC on Day 43 and not run 71 miles? What did you do that day?

PK: “I didn’t run at all, but somehow I did manage to work in over 10,000 steps just by going here and there. It was a pretty hectic day with five different stops for interviews and other events. But it was fun, and great to have my wife, family and close friends with me all day.”

US24HR: We HAVE to ask – what’s next? 

PK: “I’m excited about the 24 Hour World Championships in Belfast 2017.  Belfast will be the top focus of 2017. I haven’t decided yet which other races I’ll do, but likely avoid any FKT (fastest known times) attempts. It feels like full recovery for this will take lots of time, so I’ll use the winter to make sure that happens.”

Pete currently holds the top qualifying spot on the US National 24 Hour Running team with 163.68 Miles (263.418Km) at the Desert Soltstice 24 Hr Race in Phoenix, AZ on 12/20/2015.

The United States 24 Hour National Team will compete in the 2017 International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) 24 Hour World Championship under the patronage of the IAAF on July 1-2, 2017 in Belfast, Ireland. The United States will be represented by the USATF 24 Hour Team of up to six men and six women ultra marathon runners.  Qualifying will be open through Sunday, April 2, 2017 and the team will be announced on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.belfast2


24 Hour European Championships – Women’s Race Preview

 Joe Fejes is one of the top ultra runners in the world.  He races marathons and 24 hour races, but specializes in multi-day races.  In May 2015, Joe became the first modern-day American to break the 600-mile barrier in six days at the EMU World Trophy races in Hungary.
us-joe-fejes-1He has been on the US National 24 hour Team and is a true expert on all things ultra running.  I am honored to share his unique perspective as he handicaps the 2016 European Championships in Albi, France.  180 of Europe’s best ultrarunners representing 24 countries will compete.
Below are his overall predictions, analysis of the Top 15 runners, followed by his team predictions.

Joe Fejes’ 2016 24 Hour European Championship Race Preview:

Runner / BirthYr / Country/ 24 PR (km)/(mi)

1. Maria Jansson (85) Sweden 242/150
2. Pat Bereznowska(75) Poland 238/148
3. Szilvia Lubics (74) Hungary 232/144
4. Anna M. Vernet (67) France 239/148
5. Cecile Nissen (72) France 234/145
6. Isobel Wykes (78) GBR 230/143
7. Annika Nilrud (75) Sweden 230/143
8. Viktoria Makai (80) Hungary 225/140
9. Julia Fatton (72) Germany 230/143
10. Sharon Law (75) GBR 226/140


Maria Jansson (Sweden) – Maria placed 3rd after USA’s Katalin Nagy and Traci Falbo at the 2015 World Championships in Turin, Italy. She held on after an exciting battle with Maggie Guterl who finished 4th.   Maria  is poised for the big show especially in light of the 238.96 performance in Turin. Even though she is a youngster at 31 she is a grizzled veteran ultrarunner having competed in more than 30 events. She also isn’t afraid of the extreme races evidenced by her 40:17 performance in the Goretex Trans Alpine Run stage race and Taby 100 mile Extreme Challenge.


2. Patrycia Bereznowska (Poland) – Pat has only been running ultras since 2013 however took the silver medal at the European Championship last year in Turin with a 233km effort that was only 5 kilometers behind gold medalist Maria Jansson. Less than 6 months later, Pat ran her 238 km personal best 24 hour in Katowice Poland.


3. Szilvia Lubics (Hungary) – Last month Szilvia ran a solid 134 km in 12 hours and appears ready to peak for Albi. She is a three time winner of the Spartathlon in 2011, 2013, 2014 and has also won the Ultrabalaton 212km in Hungary multiple times. Szilvia has a motor and has run 141km in 12 hours which suggests an even greater 24 hour pr. Szilvia is also a prolific trail runner and has competed in numerous tough technical races. Reaching the podium of the 24 hour European Championship is one goal however that has eluded her. Albi will be an excellent opportunity for her to shine golden.

4. Anna Marie Vernet (France) –  Anne-Marie (age 48) has run at least one 24 hour race since 2007 with her personal best set way back in 2008. Earlier this year she ran and won the Brive 24 hour with 222km. Additionally in 2013, at the European Championship in Steenbergen, she won the women’s race with a 229km effort. With the fervent hometown French fan support behind her, she has an excellent shot at outrunning Father Time and reaching the podium.


5. Cecile Nissen (France) – Cecile performs her best in Championship races. In 2012 in Katowice Poland at the European 24 hour Championship, Cecile took the bronze medal with her personal best of 234 km. The following year in Steenbergen Netherlands, she took the silver medal with a 227 km effort. Her one exception is last year in Turin which appears that she dropped early. She hasn’t had any significant perforamcnces since 2013 though she did set her 6 hour personal best earlier this year with 64 km performance. (Photo: Serge Djian/France 3 Midi-Pyrénées)


6. Isobel Wykes (Great Britain) – Isobel took 4th in last yea’rs European Championship in Turin Italy for GBR with 227 km. In 2014 she an her personal best of 230 km on the track at Tooting Bec.


7. Annika Nilrud (Sweden) – Annika took the Bronze in last year’s EU Championship with 230 km in 24 hours. She hasn’t raced this year though so it remains to be seen what her fitness level is. She is a wildcard to watch in the race and has two strong teammates in Jansson and Lundqvist that she can garner inspiration and support from.


8. Viktoria Makai (Hungary) – My sleeper pick. Viktoria’s 225 km personal best was achieved in April this year. She appears to be close to peaking based on a strong 129 km 12 hour performance last month and finishing only 5k behind Szilvia.


9. Julia Fatton (Germany) – A prolific ultrarunner, Julia has completed more than 90 races since 1994! Her 24 hour personal best was set way back in 2010 however she did have a 226 km 5th place finish in Turin last year. Additionally she had a solid 66 km 6 hour last month likely as a final tune up to Albi.


10. Sharon Law (Great Britain) – Sharon has fared well in the past two EU championships having finished 9th in Turin with 219km and 3rd in Steenbergen with 226km. She has been quiet in 2016 with only one event in March. With the men’s GBR team being loaded with talent she will have plenty of inspiration from her male counterparts to keep her moving. Look for a strong outing from her.

Other notables: The 3rd scoring team member often is the most critical for a team to podium. Looks for Sweden’s (Sandra Lundqvist 226 km), France (Sylvie Peuch 225 km), Hungary’s (Boglarka Vago 223 km), Germany’s (Heike Bergmann 24 km) GBR’s (Debbie Martin Consani 221 km) and Poland’s Monika Biegasiewicz (debut) to play pivotal roles if there team is to succeed.


1. Sweden-What! Gold medal in something other than Winter Games?
2. Hungary-Cinderellas’ story
3. France-worst case scenario for home team is bronze
4. Great Britain-on the podium bubble along with Germany
5. Germany-on the podium bubble
6. Poland-next year is the charm
7. Italy-deep bench
8. Denmark
9. Norway
10. Austria
11. Finland
12. Ukraine
13. Croatia
14. Czech
15. Spain
16. Serbia
17. Estonia
18. Latvia
Countries with less than 3 runners:

24 Hour European Championships – Men’s Race Preview

 Joe Fejes is one of the top ultra runners in the world.  He races marathons and 24 hour races, but specializes in multi-day races.  In May 2015, Joe became the first modern-day American to break the 600-mile barrier in six days at the EMU World Trophy races in Hungary.
us-joe-fejes-1He has been on the US National 24 hour Team and is a true expert on all things ultra running.  I am honored to share his unique perspective as he handicaps the 2016 European Championships in Albi, France.  180 of Europe’s best ultrarunners representing 24 countries will compete.
Below are his overall predictions, analysis of the Top 15 runners, followed by his team predictions.

Joe Fejes’ 2016 24 Hour European Championship Race Preview:

Runner / BirthYr / Country/ 24 PR (km)/(mi)
Aleksandr Sorokin (81) Lithuania 260/161
Robbie Britton (86) GBR 261/162
Marco Bonfiglio (77) Italy debut
Dan Lawson (73) GBR 242/150
Kim Hansen (75) Denmark 257/160
Marco Consani (74) Great Britain 256/159
Bjorn K. Taranger (79) Norway 257/160
Stephane Ruel (66) France 252/157
Pat Robbins (72) GBR 256/159
Steve Holyoak (64) GBR 252/157
Kim Sorensen (84) Denmark 246/153
Henrik Westerlin (75) Denmark debut
Guillaume Laroche (76) France 244/151
Johan Steene (73) Sweden 242/150
Bela Mazur (78) Hungary 247/153


Aleksandr Sorokin (Lithuania)– My prohibitive race favorite based on raw leg speed, age and recent 24 hour performance. Aleksandr has wicked speed for a 24 hour runner having finished 10th in last year’s 100k World Championship in a blistering 6:50 with a 50k split of 3:15. For comparison sake, in the 100km, Aleksandr was more than 8 minutes faster than the first Team USA 100k runner. Joseph Binder, Matt Flaherty, Chikara Omine and Jim Walmsley ran (6:58, 7:01, 7:02 and 7:05) respectively. Aleksandr also had a phenomenal 260k 24 hour race earlier this year in Athens Greece under tough weather conditions with virtually no competition. Can Aleksandr realize his potential in Albi and add his name to the list of legendary runners that have run 275+ kilometers–Kouros, Zhalybin, Morton, Schwerk, Kruglicov, Sekiya, Nunes…Sorokin???


Robbie Britton (Great Britain)– At age 30, Robbie is the third youngest entrant in this year’s championship. Robbie is looking to improve on his spectacular 3rd place finish (261 km) in last year’s 24 hour World Championship in Turin IT. He will no doubt be in the mix for the podium again. Robbie is also a talented writer and outspoken advocate for the sport of ultrarunning. His only character flaw is a weakness for fell running- he is dangerously close to giving up the grandeur of the road and track to the darkside of running up mountains.


Marco Bonfiglio (Italy) —Marco is destined to put up a big number in the 24 hour. He has more than enough leg speed as evidenced by his sub 14 hour 100 milers and 7:02 100k time. Last month he finished 2nd at the Spartathlon with a 23:36. If he is fully recovered, he will be likely be the top horse for Italy with sights on the podium. Look for Marco to go 260+ KM in his 24 hour Euro Championship debut.


Dan Lawson (Great Britain) – Dan  finished 3rd in the Badwater 135 earlier this year with a solid sub 24 hour race (23:52). In May 2016 he also ran an impressive 142 km in 12 hours at Steenbergen which suggests he is capable of a 265+km 24 hour performance. He also finished second in last year’s Spartathlon (23:53) one minute in front of Kim Hansen. Albi will definitely be the stage where Dan can excel. In fact, Dan might give even give his young’un stud protégé teammate Robbie Britton a big brother like whuppin.


Kim Hansen (Denmark) – The first of three Danes I selected in my top 15. Kim finished 3rd in last year’s 135 mile Spartathlon only one minute behind Dan Lawson. Look for yet another dog fight within the top 5 between these two tough runners. With relatively cool conditions expected at Albi I project Kim to challenge Marco, Robbie and Dan for a podium spot.


Marco Consani (Great Britain)-Marco knows the recipe to success in the 24 hour event. His wife Debbie Martin Consani is also an elite 24 hour ultrarunner having placed in the top 10 of the European Championship the past several years. Look for Marco to run the race lock step of his for teammates Pat Robbins, Steve Holyoak, Robbie Britton, Marco Lawson and Dan Lawson.


Bjorn Kronen Taranger (Norway) – gotta love the Norwegian Wild man—heavily tattooed and a hard core drummer in the pop punk band “Goldenboy”. He also wears hot pink arm and calf sleeves for his runs. Make no mistake–Bjorn is legit—a 2:39 marathon PR with an eye popping 257.60 kilometer (160 mile) 24 hour PR he ran indoors in Bislett.


Stephane Ruel (France) – 50 years old and the second oldest of my top 15 picks behind only Steve Holyoak. In my 24 hour selections yes I do discriminate based on age (unless of course your surname is Kouros or Kruglicov). Stephane is extremely experienced ultrarunner with more than 58 events and is sure to whip the local French spectators into a frenzy. I had a tough time picking him over Pat Robbins for the 8 spot but really believe home field advantage will pay dividends.


Pat “Paddy” Robbins (Great Britain) – Pat represents at the big show. He had brilliant performances at both Turin (256km/7th) and Katowice (246 km/11th). Flip a coin between Robbins, Larson, Holyoak and Consani—all will be right there at the end.


Steve Holyoak (Great Britain) – Steve is my oldest pick in the competition (age 52). He loves to perform on the World Stage. In fact his two best 24 hour performances were at the World Championships in Turin (252 km/11th) and Steenbergen (246 km/12th). Expect another strong performance from Steve as it is likely to be his grand finale for the IAU Championship with Father Time’s stop watch running.


Kim Sorensen (Denmark)– Kim’s 24 hour PR was set last year. I believe this is his first 24 hour outside of Denmark and will be his debut at the European Championship. Adrenaline alone will give him 5k. Look for a 250km performance.


Henrik Westerlin (Denmark) – Another solid Dane runner who has above average leg speed having run 7:49 at the competitive Lake Sonoma 50 miler. He also had a solid 6th place in the 2015 Spartathlon with a 26:19. A successful debut by Henrik along with the 2 Kim’s (Hansen and Sorensen) gives the Danish team a fighting chance to podium in the team competition.


Guillaume Laroche (France) -Guillaume will benefit from home field advantage in France particularly in light of his prior experience with the venue. He set his PR at Albi last year winning the non-championship event. He will need a new best performance for team France to podium.


Johan Steene (Sweden) -Johan is poised to step up his 24 hour number and has proven himself to be an incredibly tough runner especially in the longer multiday events. In 2014 he put up 384 km in the 48 hour and possesses more than sufficient leg speed to put up a 250+ 24 hour performance. He also won the 500k Vol State screwed division with an almost untouchable performance of 95 hours.


Bela Mazur (Hungary) -Don’t overlook the Hungarian. Bela notched his 24 hour PR earlier this year and is poised to improve at Albi. (Photo credit – Don Razzino)


1. GBR -they have only improved since Turin.
2. France-hometown advantage carries them far.
3. Denmark-success largely depends on Westerlin’s debut
4. German-without their anchor Florian, it will be difficult
5. Italy-without their anchor Ivan, it will be difficult
6. Norway-potential to be best Norweigan team ever
7. Ireland
8. Hungary
9. Ukraine
10. Finland
11. Netherlands
12. Poland
13. Latvia
14. Serbia
15. Croatia
16. Austria
17. Spain
18. Czech Republic
Countries with less than 3 runners: