A 31-year-old athlete jogged up to Key West’s Southernmost Point marker Monday afternoon, successfully concluding a nearly 5,400-mile cross-continental run that began in Alaska.
Pete Kostelnick (pronounced Kuhs-TELL-nick) started his journey July 31, 2018, at Anchor Point on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, at the westernmost point in the North American highway system.
He celebrated the end of his run at the Key West marker that delineates the southernmost point in the continental United States.
“Today was the final day and I made it, and it’s been the adventure of a lifetime,” said a jubilant Kostelnick.
Upon arriving, he sprinkled a tiny vial of Pacific Ocean water that he had collected on the first day of his run into the Atlantic Ocean at the Southernmost Point.
He then popped the cork on a bottle of champagne and, surrounded by cheering spectators including his wife Nikki, took a swig and poured the bottle’s contents over his head.
Kostelnick aspired to become the first person to complete a self-supported run, without relying on an accompanying support vehicle, from Alaska to Florida. Pushing his supplies and gear in a jogging stroller, he averaged 55 miles per day on a diagonal route through parts of Alaska, Canada and the United States.
As well as commemorating his love of running, he said he hoped his trek would provide a lifetime of memories and inspire others follow their dreams
“I call it ‘Ke2Key’ — Kenai to Key West — unlocking my wildest dreams,” Kostelnick said. “I think if the dream doesn’t scare you, then it’s not worth chasing after.”
He added that some people have compared him to the fictional character Forrest Gump, who ran cross-country several times during a 1994 film of the same name.
“I get a lot of Forrest Gump comparisons and that’s all right — there could be worse people to be compared to,” Kostelnick said as he stood beside the Southernmost Point.
Then, following a tradition embraced by almost all visitors to Key West, he posed for a photograph in front of the iconic monument.