Ke2Key: How Pete Kostelnick ran self-supported from Kenai to Key West

In 2016, HOKA Athlete Pete Kostelnick ran across America to set the fastest-known time running across the country. An accountant from Iowa who found running later in life, Pete ran 3,067 miles across the United States to break a 36-year-old record. Most people would be satisfied with this accomplishment, but he found a way to push his limits even further.

Pete just became the first man to successfully run from Kenai, Alaska to Key West, Florida. His journey followed a 5,384-mile road that spans the two furthest corners of the United States. He completed his run in 98 days for an average of 55.3 miles a day. And to make this challenge even more difficult, Pete ran self-supported and pushed a stroller with everything he needed along the way. So he packed up his stroller with five outfits, bear spray and some Clifton 5s and Bondi 6s, and he set out on his challenge.


Pete’s inspiration for this adventure came from a family road trip to Alaska during his childhood. “We met people who were motorcycling or RVing all the way from Alaska to Florida, and I thought that was really cool. I wasn’t a runner back when I was 11 and definitely not an ultrarunner, but that was where the original thought process was when I was a kid. I found out that people do these adventures from Alaska to Florida, and there is a paved road that goes all the way,” Pete says.

Fast forward to when Pete set the speed record for running across America. This achievement gave him confidence, but the experience left him with more to be desired. Running an average of 72 miles a day for 42 days to get from San Francisco to New York City, Pete says he felt a sense of emptiness after he finished. Even though the run went exactly to plan, it was all about speed rather than taking in the journey.

“It was run, eat, sleep, repeat. So, I thought, ‘How can I do another run across America and make it just as challenging but enjoy it along the way?’ The only way to do that was to make it longer and do fewer miles per day,” Pete says.

Boasting wins at races such as the Badwater 135, Pete is no stranger to long distances. However, this major crossing would include one drastic change for Pete — running self-supported. Logistically, he knew it would be hard to find anyone to join him for 100 days and budget-wise it was a no brainer. But, running self-supported means Pete would have no outside help, need to carry all his own gear, food, water and find his own lodging. This was a huge contrast to his previous transcontinental run, where he had an entire crew dedicated to helping him.



Looking back, Pete acknowledges his fears of running self-supported through remote stretches of highway. “I heard so many things about the wildlife in Alaska. That was definitely one of the main things on my mind because you never know going into something like this. I was running on highways that maybe have never had people running on them. If a bear saw me running down the highway, it might just naturally go after me because it’s never seen a human running by them before. That was one of my biggest fears early on because I eventually did see grizzly bears and black bears along the road,” Pete says.

However, Pete soon realized that his fear of bears weren’t the most pressing danger, and the reality of being self-supported set in when food was scarce in remote locations. Pete planned extensively for the journey with a detailed spreadsheet of places to stay and eat, but meticulous details weren’t always enough.

“There were four or five weeks in Alaska where there were hundreds of miles between towns with any businesses or grocery stores. Typically, I had to eat 7,000-8,000 calories a day. I was living on trail mix and canned chili for so long. I had a giant ziplock bag that I would pour various types of trail mix into. It was a calorie dense way to store food on the stroller. Some days, I ate over half of my calories in the form of trail mix,” Pete says.



Other days, Pete was happy to find a Subway sandwich for dinner in a nearby small town. But even when times were tough, Pete kept a positive mindset and never had doubts that he would finish once he got started.

“It kind of took me by surprise because I went in telling people that I had no idea how far I was going to make it. I was just going to go until something bad happened. I think back on it now, and I can’t believe how calm and collected I was after a few days on the road. I was just so focused on what I needed to do. Once I got out of Anchorage I was like, ‘Let’s do this. This is the challenge of a lifetime and I’m so excited to take it on,’” Pete says.

When it comes to conquering his goals, Pete says his patience is what separates him from others. His mindset is what’s allowed him to excel at these insurmountable challenges.

“If I’m moving closer towards a goal, no matter how slowly I’m moving towards it, I have this ability to stay laser focused on it. I think that’s the main thing for something like this. It doesn’t really matter how good of an athlete you are. If you are focused on continuing to move forward and staying positive, it’s possible to reach it,” Pete says.

Photo credit: Carol Tedesco/Florida Keys News Bureau
Photo credit: Carol Tedesco/Florida Keys News Bureau

And even despite running alone for 29 days straight during the beginning of his run, Pete was able to keep a positive mindset. “A lot of times when I was alone, it was in very scenic and beautiful areas along the Alaskan highway. I could just run and kind of lose myself in thought,” Pete says. After that initial period, Pete was thankful to have friends join him along the way and managed to find running partners for the majority of the rest of his journey.

Yet, his last day, Pete opted to run alone. “Going into the last day, I made sure that it was just me running by myself because I was so excited to use that day to think back on the entire run,” he says. When he finally arrived in the Florida Keys, Pete ran until he literally couldn’t run anymore and dipped his feet into the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo credit: Carol Tedesco/Florida Keys News Bureau

Pete now has two formidable records under his belt, so we asked, what’s next on his list? “I’m sure there’s an adventure out there that could be longer, but for me, this was about growing up in the U.S. and loving Alaska and Canada. It really was a story book adventure for me,” Pete says.

But, for Pete, this was never about out-doing the record he set two years ago. Although he loves a challenge, he’s in it for the adventure. He wants to stop and take pictures, meet the locals and catch up with old friends — even if that means pushing a stroller 5,384 miles across the U.S.

Pete wore the Clifton 5 and Bondi 6 during his Ke2Key run.



Concrete to Cacti: Latoya Shauntay Snell’s first 100K

Almost sixteen months ago, I experienced a tumultuous low in my life.

I had a miscarriage with twins, contemplated quitting running and told a few of my loved ones that this would be my last season. I’d break the news to my once intimate following on Running Fat Chef that I was leaving this sport forever. However, those plans were disrupted by a heckling spectator at the 2017 NYC Marathon.

Although the brief altercation of being fat shamed was terrible, it was a life altering experience that forced me out of my self-defeatist comfort zone. Sharing this terrible experience made me viral overnight to a community who didn’t know I existed. Before I knew it, I became an accidental activist for the body positivity moment and one of the many voices for the back of the pack runners — I never looked back.

Before this series of events, I had read a copy of my ultrarunning buddy’s book where she talked about her first 100K race and proclaimed it was a “party in the desert.” Despite loving her story, I came to my own definition of why people like her did it: insanity. I thought any person who was willing to sign up for a 100K has to be a borderline idiot.

Post NYC, my buddy jokingly pestered me about the 100K she had completed, the Javelina Jundred 100K. It is a race in Fountain Hills, Arizona with a multi-loop course and a generous 29-hour cut off designed to prevent delirious participants from feeling isolated.

This race started to sound desirable, and less than a few months later, I embarked on this crazy adventure. I used a regiment crafted by HOKA Athlete Megan Roche and started training in April.

When I arrived in Arizona, visiting the expo was electrifying. Unlike the road races that I’m used to, the Javelina Jundred expo was intimate but buzzing. I was greeted by five elite athletes, all of who participated in the festivities through running or volunteering on the course.


When race day arrived, I watched the 100 milers take off. They looked like moving Christmas lights scurrying around McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Before I knew it, I was at that same start line ready to take on 100K.

I’m used to watching people pass me on the course, but being a back-of-the-pack runner has its pressures. To some, if you’re not running fast enough, you are a glorified walker. At 5’3 and with a 240-pound muscular frame, the fact that I identify as a runner is comical to some. People like me are suggested to lose weight, scolded to move faster and accused of eating too much or lacking discipline. None of these factors stop me from running — in fact, they fuel me.

Such statements convinced me to use my first 22-mile loop as an ode to some of the worst things that I had read or heard directed to friends, family members, my social media followers and at times, myself. In so many ways, I thought that anger would push me through.

This perspective changed when I linked up with a fellow back-of-the-pack ultrarunner named Lisa. She showed me a personal note that she wrote to propel her throughout the course, which included a reminder to smile. Although Lisa didn’t know it, our conversations and breaks of silence replaced my angry intentions. Plenty of endurance athletes use these events to confront their personal demons. However, life handed me a smoother alternative option when I met Lisa.

My first loop gave me many first-time experiences. Ten minutes away from Coyote Camp, I saw what appeared to be a dog dart off in the distance. It was actually a coyote. Surprisingly, I wasn’t scared but fascinated. Reaching our first aid station, Lisa and I indulged in a shot of Fireball, a random shot of whiskey and a cup of IPA with HOKA Athlete Tim Tollefson. We saw runners who dressed in costumes prancing through the desert. Pumped with energy, we iced our bodies in preparation for the rapidly growing Arizona heat.


Lisa and I parted, and the sun whipped my body into submission. The heat was growing more oppressive by the moment. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I had another 39 miles to go. I hit a wall, and my mind danced with the idea of giving up. I thought about the excuses that I could tell my friends and family members, but my heart didn’t feel right about it. When I left Rattlesnake Ranch, my silence became a burden, and I opted to play music from my phone.

Notifications started rushing in on my phone. I had decided to dedicate my second loop to slow runners and tears streamed down my face as I allowed hundreds of messages to fuel me. I shuffled my blistered feet through the sunset until I hit Jackass Junction.

Clearly “the party in the desert” wasn’t a joke; Jackass Junction could be heard from a quarter mile away. The lights were shining and people were dancing inside the tent. I sat down, and two volunteers came to my side offering two cheeseburgers and two cups of coffee.

A mile after leaving Jackass Junction, two hot dogs rushed past me, one of which was HOKA Athlete Tim Tollefson. He asked how I was feeling, and I assured him that I was doing okay. I trekked on through the night.

The stars spoke to me, and the shift in the temperature brought me to a calm. The loop-style course served me well as runners moving in both directions exchanged supportive messages. The ultra community is unique in that way. For the first time, I felt like I truly belonged with other runners.

Slightly after midnight, I finished loop two. My feet were inflamed, and a few suggested that I take a nap before heading back out to the course. I had hoped to finish the course before the 24-hour mark, but at that point, I just wanted to finish and push my body further than I ever had.

After a two-hour break, I received my final lap bracelet and headed back out on the course. My headlamp died. In complete darkness, I used my phone light to navigate through the trails. I told myself to remain calm.

Finally, I was greeted by the sunrise. The heat started to pick up, and I wanted this race to be over. I called my husband for words of encouragement. He reminded me that my last loop was for me — the woman who dropped out of high school because of seven missing gym credits.

As close as I was to the finish line, it still felt so far. After hearing a few conversations, I realized that I was the last 100K participant on the course. I chuckled to myself. “I’m going to be DFL.”


With 2.75 miles remaining, I felt like I was walking on nails. I had an hour and a half left to make the cutoff, and I refused to be pulled off the course. I dug deep, pushed past the sound of my grunts and speed walked my way through.

I could hear music playing, and I thought it was my imagination playing tricks on me. As I arrived at Javelina Jeadquarters, the banners were still up, and I was amazed at how many people were still there to cheer me in. I was overwhelmed with emotions. Nobody cared that I was a plus-size athlete or that I was the last runner on the course. I was a 100K finisher.


I love the sense of inclusion I felt in a sport where you don’t typically see bodies like mine. Even though a 100K still makes me nervous, I’m looking forward to a new goal: 100 miles. Perhaps being a “borderline” idiot isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Shop the shoe Latoya conquered her first 100K in, the Speedgoat 2.



27 before 27: Why marathon recovery can help you meet your goals

One day about three years ago, I was on a 20-mile training run when I ripped off my wig mid-run and hung it up when I got home. I haven’t looked back since. And that defining moment was because of running.

I have an autoimmune condition called alopecia that caused me to lose all of my hair at age two and left me completely bald. I never truly felt like me under the wig, but I didn’t know how to break free from it.

Taking up running has taught me strength, determination, grit and self-confidence I never knew I had. It was just over six years ago that I toed the line at my very first marathon in my college town of Duluth, Minnesota (Grandma’s Marathon) with thousands of other runners all looking to conquer the highly respected task of being called a marathoner. I didn’t know at the time, but this race would change my life in more incredible ways than I could have ever imagined.


I have run 31 marathons since that one, but it was never about the number of races (even though I did aim for 27 before age 27 as a goal). If I hadn’t run my first marathon, I don’t think I would be where I am or who I am today. I learned so much. Not only did I learn about myself during my running career but also about the sport, preparation and post-race recovery that have helped me drastically improve.

Here are the key components I focus on for post-marathon recovery so I can feel ready to take on my next marathon, which is usually only a short time away.

  1. Walk it out

After crossing the finish line, no matter how exhausted I feel, I walk around and let my heart rate come down. It helps me prevent cramping from just immediately sitting down even though I want to.

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

The amount of sweating I do during a race is crazy, especially living in the South and dealing with the humidity. It makes a big difference during the race to be hydrated leading up to and during race day, but afterwards, it’s just as important to put the fluids and electrolytes back into my body that I lost during the race. I drink water and Gatorade all day afterward and for days afterwards as well.


  1. Eat some protein

After a race, I always make sure I eat a substantial amount of protein to help build up my muscles after a race. I am a huge fan of Quest Bars, peanut butter and nuts, and they’re easy to pack in your gear check bag to make sure I have some of my favorite foods after a race.

  1. Don’t skip stretching

Stretching is so important. After my first few races, I never thought about stretching and can still remember how sore I was, how difficult it was to get up and down stairs and how hard it was to move around. After my heart rate has come down, I always make sure to stretch thoroughly, especially my hamstrings, which are always the most sore for me.

My favorite and also most painful tool is the foam roller. I use it everyday to help stretch and work out any tightness I have for after marathon care. I even have a smaller one that fits into my suitcase to use at hotels or on the road before and especially after races.

  1.  Shake it out

The day after the marathon, I go on an easy four-mile recovery run to stretch the legs, stay loose and keep the blood flowing. This is never a fast run for me, but it does prevent me from becoming too sore or stiff.


  1. Give yourself a break

I always take a full seven days off from serious, hard running after a marathon. I use this week to rest, and for recovery, I may add in a few yoga classes or maybe a spin class but definitely not any running. I’ve found after this marathon recovery time that I feel rested and have the itch to start running again.

  1. Set a new goal

Have another race on the calendar to look forward to and start training for. I love the feeling of seeing a countdown on my phone for my next race. It helps me to stay motivated and excited to get back into training.

It definitely took me quite a few races to figure out how to recover after a marathon, but now, I have it down. I have learned that having a marathon recovery plan and focusing on rest, hydration, stretching and food intake does make a big difference and can really affect how quickly I can bounce back after a race.

Shop Lindsay’s go-to marathon shoe, the Clifton 5.