Two local runners have been named among the best in the country.
Kaci Lickteig and Pete Kostelnick landed on UltraRunning Magazine’s list of top ultrarunners of 2016.
Lickteig topped the list of female ultrarunners, and Kostelnick placed ninth on the men’s list.
This was Lickteig’s second time making the list. In 2015, she was ranked fourth.
The Omahan won seven of the eight races she completed last year. The 30-year-old’s win at the Western States 100 — considered ultrarunning’s most prestigious event — was a standout moment. She finished the 100-mile course in 17 hours, 57 minutes, 59 seconds.
Lickteig’s only defeat was at the Lake Sonoma 50, where she came in second. In three races, Lickteig was the overall winner, beating male competitors, too.
Topping the list of ultrarunners has been one of Lickteig’s goals.
“I was just beside myself,” she said. “I’m very thankful and grateful for the year I’ve had. I’ve always wanted to accomplish that goal, but never did I dream it would be a wish come true.”
Lickteig already has set her sights on races for 2017. She will be back at the Western States 100 for a fourth year. But the biggest goal on her list is to complete her first international race. She will run the UTMB, a 105-mile mountain race in Mont Blanc, France, in September.
This was the first time Kostelnick, a Boone, Iowa, native and former Lincoln resident, made the magazine’s ranking.
Finishing first at the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon helped the 29-year-old land his spot on the list. Kostelnick finished the 135-mile race this summer in a course record of 21 hours, 56 minutes, 32 seconds. He ran 163.68 miles to place first in a 24-hour race and second in a 100-mile race at Desert Solstice in Phoenix.
He also finished 29th at the Western States 100, which contributed to his ranking.
Kostelnick, who recently moved from Nebraska to Hannibal, Missouri, said 2016 was the best of his six-year ultrarunning career. He had setbacks at the start of the year because of low iron levels and anemia. Those health issues forced him to drop out of several spring races.
“It was really beyond what I was expecting,” he said of his placements at 2016 events.
Kostelnick broke a 36-year-old Guinness World Record for the fastest crossing of America on foot. He traveled from San Fransisco to New York City in 42 days, 6 hours, 30 minutes, finishing the feat in October.
“I’m more excited about the run across America and breaking that record. I’m looking at breaking other records in the future,” he said.
Kostelnick said he had hoped that his record-breaking run would have landed him higher on the list.
But because it wasn’t a race, the jaunt across the states wasn’t considered in the voting data used by the magazine. This year, a group of 39 people, most of them race directors, voted on the rankings. They considered performances in timed, competitive ultra races.
While he’s still in recovery mode from his 2016 season, Kostelnick has set goals for the new year. The biggest race will be the 24-hour World Championships held in July in Northern Ireland. Nine days later, he’ll lace up his sneakers to run 135 miles at Badwater again.