The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

2013 RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI XLI runs into the record book

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.”

10 Comments

Steve Soliz, Jul 28, 2013 at 8:27 am

I saw Pete running every day. His commitment and discipline are an inspiration. I wish him the best!

Steve Soliz
Air Force Cycle Team
Texas

Bob Gerchen, Jul 28, 2013 at 9:10 am

Pete and Richard were amazing. I don’t know how they did it. Congrats, man – you rock!

Bob Gerchen
The Mankind Project
St. Louis, MO

Steve Reed, Jul 29, 2013 at 11:24 am

Ragbrai is a bicycle ride not a run. As difficult as it would be to run it; it distracts from what the ride is. I want to ride my bicycle in the Boston Marathon.

Joe Prochaska, Jul 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm

My first thought was that there was a relay of runners doing this. My second thought was that it was twin brothers doing a relay. This was an amazing accomplishment. Don’t worry, there won’t be too many runners on RAGBRAI in the future and there is more than enough pie for everyone. This year was perhaps the most accessible for a runner, given the short distances and the incredibly good, cool weather the last few days.

Jim McCormick, Jul 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm

My team LOVED seeing Pete out there everyday. Most of us are runners and triathletes – seeing an ultra-runner out there was amazing. There are always new heights to achieve!

Chris H, Aug 1, 2013 at 8:54 pm

To Steve Reed:

We come together for one week in July to test our mettle by whatever means we have. Most ride. Some skateboard. Or rollerblade. Or unicycle. Or highwheel. The means of motion matter not. The desire to be part of this squid we call RAGBRAI is.

Celebrate them for the remarkable physical and mental feat they accomplished. To downplay what they in the manour in which you did either marks you as the most miserable, or most jealous, person on RAGBRAI.

Ken Hutchinson, Aug 2, 2013 at 10:54 am

I am delighted to hear that not one but two runners completed this task. And truly impressed! Riding RAGBRAI has its challenges to be sure but just as riding a marathon distance in less than world record running time is quite easy, riding 442 miles (that is what my bike computer said anyway) is a lot easier than it sounds when you first hear of the idea. Running it is obviously another matter and as far as I am concerned any man or woman who wants to attempt it is welcome to join us any time. BRAVO, Pete and Richard!!

Pete Kostelnick, Aug 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Appreciate all the kind words! My pace was always sluggish in the dark early morning hours, but picked up each day when all the bicyclists flew by me. Richard and I absolutely loved the words of encouragement. You all have inspired me to get back on the bike after a few triathlons a couple years ago that included a fall during training that I never really got over. I’ll work on getting the hang of those aerobars. 🙂

Jeksports, Sep 20, 2013 at 9:02 am

Nice informative blog. Really Ragbrai commitment and discipline are an inspiration.Thanks.

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