When Kaci Lickteig laces up her running shoes, she's not just heading out for a quick jog around the block.
The 27-year-old Dannebrog, Neb., native and physical therapist now living in Omaha, runs at least 12 miles each day. She'll run 31 miles at least once a week for distance training. She gets some rest in, too, but still manages about 100 miles each week.
It's obvious she's a runner, but Lickteig's passion for distance running is what has earned her the title of "ultrarunner" and national recognition as one of the best in the country.
Last month UltraRunning Magazine named Lickteig (pronounced lick-tie) the eighth best female ultrarunner in the country in 2013.
Lickteig ran eight ultras (races longer than the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles) in 2013 and was the first woman to finish all of them. She was the first overall finisher in four of those races.
"It's still surreal," Lickteig said of the magazine's recognition. "It's hard to believe this could happen to a small-town person."
She said the honor proves that anything can happen with hard work.
Lickteig ran in high school but didn't take it seriously, she said, until college. She walked on for the University of Nebraska at Kearney after transferring from Central Community College. She became the first female cross country runner at UNK to qualify for the NCAA Division II championships.
Her growth and success continued when she qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2011 after finishing the California International Marathon in 2 hours, 44 minutes and 14 seconds.
She ran her first ultra in 2012. About a year later, she ran her first 100-mile race at the Black Hills 100 in Sturgis, S.D. and finished second overall out of 93 runners. She also broke the women's course record by seven hours.
Lickteig was recently sponsored by Pearl Izumi, a sports apparel company, and will be a part of its team of elite runners this year. Her next big race is the Rocky Raccoon 100-Mile Trail Run next month in Texas where she hopes to qualify for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. The Western States is the world's oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race and considered the Boston Marathon of ultrarunning.
"I'm really excited for this year," Lickteig said. "It's really exciting to be on a collective team again like in college."
To read more about the magazine's honor, click here.