Strums & Strides

7 marathons. 7 continents. All for the healing power of music.

Join Nick Stark (Stukel) on his journey to become the first medical student to run marathons on every continent while raising funds and awareness for Musicians On Call.

2 Continents Down.

New lesson learned: sitting in a full row on a plane for 22 hours the day after a marathon is no fun. But, there is a lot of pride in that discomfort-- on Sunday, I finished my second marathon for the month of June!

The two days between climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and running the marathon were less restful than I had planned, but also much more exciting. I spent the days with my group in Moshi, a town at the base of the mountain, and we gained some new members along the way. When it was all said and done, there were eleven of us - all but one from the US. We explored the city, wandered through chaotic and dusty outdoor markets, stumbled upon soccer games, and ate...a lot. Our hotel, a couple of kilometers outside of town on a small road, offered a nice break from the horns and black smoke billowing from buses and trucks inside the city center. 

Running so soon after my previous marathon - and almost immediately following a grueling 5-day hike to the highest point in Africa - was an interesting experience. I went into the marathon feeling around 70%, still nursing sore muscles and exhausted mental reserves. The experience was uniquely African, which was just what I was looking for: slightly disorganized and chaotic with challenges (like no water at the water tables for the first 6 miles, and LOTS of hills) that forced constant adjustment. I was able to pace with a Tanzanian for a while -before he sped off and I knew I needed to hold back- which added a very personal spin to the run. Our group challenged and motivated each other along the four 10.5 Kilometer loops, which was vital to my finishing. All in all, I was thrilled with how things went-- I placed in the top two! After the race, our group gave our running shoes to the top Tanzanian runners as a way to thank them for welcoming us into their country. Sharing shoes between runners turned out to be a surprisingly powerful experience that I will treasure for a long time. 

It was difficult leaving Tanzania...I made some fantastic new friends and memories throughout my time in both Asia and Africa, and it is difficult to see the experience end. After a brief stop in Qatar to get my first taste of the Middle East, I will landed in Omaha last night with an ever-expanding view of the world and a profound appreciation for and admiration of humanity. I am thrilled to continue exploring the world and spreading my passion for strengthening the bond between music and medicine throughout the coming years. 

Thank you for joining me on this journey so far- your support means more than I can tell you! The Antarctica marathon is confirmed for March 2017, and I am going to start planning continent number three in the coming weeks...I will most likely be running again in December 2014. Stay tuned!

Until then, keep running.  

Nick 

 

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