Lincoln man ready to run 135 mile race

By: Bill Schammert

To the regular human, Pete Kostelnick seems like a normal guy. He’s married, has a good job and enjoys regular human things, most of the time. Add in a little bit of crazy and a lot of athletic ability, and you have a man who enjoys races in his spare time. But, not the regular human-kind.

“Most of my friends think I just made it up,” Kostelnick said. “Now they just think I’m the crazy guy.”

On Monday, Kostelnick will run the Badwater 135 in Death Valley, California. It’s a 135-mile race in the scorching desert heat.

“It’s billed as the world’s toughest ultramarathon,” Kostelnick said. 

You won’t find any arguments here. 

Looking at the forecast, he guesses temperatures will average around 110-degrees during the peak of the day. He’ll run through mountains, but he jokes he goes up three times and only comes down twice. Starting at around 3,000 feet above sea level he’ll finish somewhere around 9,000 feet. 

“It’s just kind of cool to think, ‘Oh yeah, I can do that.’ And if I can do that, maybe I can do more,” he said. 

Distance running started as a way to knock off the extra beer weight Kostelnick had put on at Iowa State. Ten marathons later, he wanted more. 

At 26, Monday’s Badwater 135 Ultramarathon will be his third race of more than 100 miles. 

“It’s less about challenging others and more about racing yourself, seeing if you can get that personal best.”

Kostelnick hopes to average between a 10 and 12-minute mile pace in order to run the entire race in less than 30 hours. He’ll have a group of four friends and training partners nearby in a vehicle to help feed, hydrate and keep his spirits up. 

And at the end, he says he’ll be most excited for a little taste of home.

“The first thing I’ll do is have a Zipline beer at the finish.”