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Four different ultrarunners are running across North America

Pete Kostelnick, Mike Wardian, Dave Proctor and Richard Donovan are just the ones we know about

Many runners have felt the silent pull of the long run, but running all day, every day, for months, takes the meaning of “long run” a step further. The passion for these gigantic physical and mental journeys seems only to be growing within the ultrarunning community, and we are aware of at least four ultrarunners (two Americans, one Canadian and one Irish) who are currently (or soon will be) crossing North America on foot–each for different reasons and causes.

Pete Kostelnick
Pete Kostelnick (centre) in 2016

Pete Kostelnick of Phoenix, Ariz. is known for breaking the trans-American record in 2016 by crossing the U.S. on foot in a record 42 days, six hours and 30 minutes. He followed that up in 2018 by completing a self-supported 8,614 km run from Kenai, Alaska, to Key West, Fla., including portions of western Canada, in 98 days. In July, he’ll begin an attempt to not only run 50 miles per day in 50 states over 50 days straight, solo, but he will then to head to Australia to become the first human to run the 3,935 km from Perth to Sydney, averaging roughly 128 kilometres per day for 31 days.

Kostelnick, 35, writes about the Australian adventure: “In running from Perth to Sydney in the bar I’ve set for myself, that will be the most difficult and challenging one I’ll probably ever attempt.” Kostelnick will host a daily podcast throughout his journey, and invites fellow runners to join him throughout his cross-U.S. run, with his expected dates of arrival in various places posted on social media.

World Marathon Challenge
Mike Wardian during the World Marathon Challenge

Fellow Hoka-sponsored athlete and ultrarunner Mike Wardian of Arlington, Va., has already begun his trek across the U.S., one the athlete says he’s dreamed of for much of his life. Wardian is currently on day 19 of the 5,100 km journey, averaging 80 km per day and supported by his father, Richard Wardian. His daily updates online include what music or book he is listening to (yesterday was Guns and Roses), among other things. Wardian is raising money for World Vision in an attempt to provide greater access to clean drinking water to people across the world, in a project he has dubbed #runninghome.

Canadian Dave Proctor of Okotoks, Alta., is making his second attempt at breaking the cross-Canada record set by Al Howie in 1991. Howie ran from Newfoundland to Victoria in 72 days, 10 hours; following in Howie’s footsteps from east to west, Proctor hopes to complete the trek in 66 days. Proctor’s previous attempt in 2018 ended in injury, and his second attempt has been delayed by the pandemic. Currently on day five, Proctor is averaging 105 km a day and is supported by a varied crew of friends (including Canadian ultrarunners Matt Shepard, Mike Huber and Myron Tetrault, among others) and family, who are flying out separately to various points on his trip and providing aid for six to 16 days each.

Proctor on his Transalberta run in 2021. Photo: Take Roots Consulting

Irish ultrarunner Richard Donovan, creator of the World Marathon Challenge (seven marathons on seven continents in seven days), is also running across the U.S., from east to west, in memory of his friend Alvin Matthews. Donovan’s run began the day after the Boston Marathon (which he also ran). He hopes to average about 64 km per day in a scenic and circuitous journey that will take about three months; he made a similar trek in 2015.

All four athletes have demonstrated remarkable prowess at ultra-distance events, and readers and runners alike look forward to both following the athletes online and spotting them on highways on multiple continents over the next few months.

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