By climbing the short flight of steps on New York’s City Hall, HokaOneOne Athlete Pete Kostelnick officially beat the world record for fastest run across America at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
The 29-year-old from Lincoln, Nebraska, left San Francisco’s City Hall on September 12—his birthday—at 8 a.m. He then headed east for 3,067 miles, completing the journey in 42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes.
The previous mark, set in 1980 by a shoe salesman named Frank Giannino Jr., was 46 days, 8 hours, and 36 minutes. Kostelnick, aided by a four-person crew, averaged more than 72 miles a day to break the record by more than four days.
“I need a beer and my wife right now,” Pete Kostelnick said after finishing his run. He said he hadn’t seen his wife, Nikki, in six weeks and had missed their anniversary earlier this month.
Kostelnick kept a rigid routine, sleeping in an RV on the route until 3 a.m. He would then run 40 miles in roughly seven hours—a nine- to 10-minute per-mile pace. He’d take a short break for lunch, then continue for 30 miles or more into the night. He spent upwards of 14 hours running each day for six straight weeks.
Even with thousands of miles behind him, Kostelnick saved his longest day for the final stretch. He started running at midnight Monday from Columbia, New Jersey, and put in 87 miles until he reached his finish line in New York City. Kostelnick only had two days where he ran less than 70 miles, and he only took one full rest day early in trip.
Kostelnick has run through thunderstorms, snowstorms and 35 mile-per-hour winds, and over three mountain passes at more than 9,000 feet on his route to New York City. One of his support vehicles was recently totaled when a truck slammed into it; thankfully no one was hurt. Despite these challenges, he has kept a consistent pace — consuming at least 13,000 calories a day.
A support van leap-frogged ahead every mile to two miles, providing hydration and food during the segments. Kostelnick battled snowstorms in Utah and 35-mph winds across the plains. In the early morning dark on October 16, his support van was struck by another vehicle. Nobody was injured, but the van was totaled. Despite the setback, he completed more than 70 miles that day while his crew rushed to find a replacement vehicle.
“We are incredibly excited to support Pete’s run across America. He started running in order to improve his health a few years ago and has quickly risen among the ranks of ultrarunners,” said Mike McManus, HOKA ONE ONE Senior Sports Marketing Manager. “I’m amazed by his singular focus of 70-plus mile days per day. We’re cheering for him as he resets the standard of what’s possible. This is inspirational and mind-blowing!”
The trans-American record has eluded renowned ultrarunners for more than three decades. This year alone, three high-profile attempts have failed in their attempts to break the mark.
- Lisa Smith-Batchen, who had previously broken the record for fastest time to run 50 miles in all 50 states, was forced to drop out of her trans-America attempt because of an emergency gallbladder surgery.
- Ultrarunning newcomer Adam Kimble finished the trek, but missed the record by more than a week.
- British ultrarunner Robert Young dropped out in Indianapolis this summer, sidelined with a broken foot and dogged by cheating allegations. An investigation released in early October concluded Young received “unauthorized assistance” during the attempt.