Sat, Jul 27, 2013 | by Emily SchettlerShare
FORT MADISON —
Several people had previously tried to run a complete RAGBRAI, but none had finished the daunting task. Until Saturday, when it happened twice.
Pete Kostelnick and Richard Kresser both stepped into the Mississippi River after running 400-plus miles across Iowa.
“It’s unreal. It still hasn’t even sunk in,” Kostelnick said afterward.
The 25-year-old Boone native, who now lives in Lincoln, Neb., cracked a beer while waiting in line early Saturday afternoon for his turn to dip his foot in the Mighty Mississippi.
Kresser, 27, who is originally from Raymond, ran down the trail about an hour later and straight into the river amid cheers from cyclists and onlookers.
“I had some fantastic support on the downhill coming in here to Fort Madison, there were so many more cheers than I expected,” Kresser said. “Now that I’m done, the body is like, ‘OK, let’s move on to something else, like a couch.’ ”
The two ultra-long distance runners said they had their doubts during the week about whether they could finish.
For Kostelnick, it was after Day 1, when he ran 84 miles, including the Karras loop, which riders tackled the second day. He split the extra mileage over Sunday and Monday.
Kresser tried to complete the full century ride in a single day but was forced to stop due to hot temperatures followed by heavy rain and hail.
“Once 9 a.m. rolled around and the sun came out and we hit a high of 93 (degrees), the 30 miles to Guthrie Center was a death march,” Kresser said.
That section of the route took him 11 hours to complete. He cut the day short and came back Tuesday to make up the distance.
Both have had their sights set on RAGBRAI for a couple years.
“Running across the state by yourself would be boring,” Kostelnick said.
They raised money along the way, Kresser for the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown and Kostelnick for the organization Holiday Heroes, which provides programming for children in hospitals around the holidays.
This year’s combination of a short route and cooler temperatures helped make the dream a reality. It took a lot of motivation, support and sheer willpower, too.
The men averaged about three to four hours of sleep a night and ran between 12 and 20 hours each day.
Kresser switched between four pairs of running shoes and ate breakfast burritos from vendors to help him get through.
Kostelnick had a nurse on his support crew who gave him a massage each night. Others encouraged him to eat even when he wasn’t hungry, a necessity to keep him going.
Support from riders along the way helped, too.
“It’s fun to be at the finish, but I’m kind of sad it’s over because I got so much support from bikers,” Kostelnick said. “When I wake up tomorrow it will be quiet. I won’t have people cheering me on.”
Like many RAGBRAI riders, both have to work Monday morning.
For Kresser, a captain in the U.S. Army, that means completing physical training at the Joint Lewis-McChord Army Base near Tacoma, Wash.
Kostelnick and Kresser both said one RAGBRAI adventure on foot is enough, but both will continue running long distances.
In fact, Kostelnick’s next race is in three weeks — 100 miles through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
“After that I have nothing planned,” he said. “I might take some time off.”