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.

¡Vamos, Argentina!

"¡Vamos, Argentina!" My brother, Scott, and I spent our last night in Argentina chanting this with some new Argentinian friends, who I was able to connect with through one of my friends from med school, Annie. Although they may have lost the Copa América that night to Chile, spending time watching a soccer game in that intense of an atmosphere is something I will remember for a long time. 

As I round out my 20+ hours in the air over the last day and a half, my head has stopped spinning enough from the whirlwind of the last few days in South America to spend some time reflecting on it. If there is one thing that the third year of medical school taught me, it is the virtue of brevity when possible, so I will narrow things down to a couple core moments. 

The first was some time Scott and I spent with our new Argentinian friend, Ceci. Despite never meeting her before, she graciously took off an afternoon to show us around her beautiful hometown of Rosario, Argentina (where the marathon was held). I am always a sucker for prodding about healthcare systems in different places, and it was interesting to learn about the interaction of their private and public systems. As I get further into my career in medicine, I continue to discover my deepening passion for helping make access to care more widely available, and it helps to see how other countries approach things. 

The second moment was a little longer...3 hours, 26 minutes and 22 seconds to be exact. Aside from being my new personal record marathon time, each of those moments pushed me to my max. Each second made me both question my sanity as well as strengthen my desire to follow through with this whole Strums & Strides thing. The weather conditions would normally cause me to take the day off from running...45 degrees, alternating mist and downpours, and 25-MPH wind gusts aren't really my thing. I can't count the number of times I wanted to walk, change my socks and shoes, or just quit. But the thought of you - friends and family who have supported this journey so passionately and generously - and the faces of the kids and families I see impacted by music in the hospital, kept me going (along with some encouraging words from my brother as he ran beside me for the second half of the race). I have never pushed myself harder, finishing has never felt more gratifying, and I am more determined than ever to see this through. All seven continents, by the end of medical school. 

And with that, the push continues. Antarctica and Australia up next, with a race in DC to finish out the initiative in 2017. Musicians On Call, with the help of our support, continues to expand across the country. Georgetown Med's music outreach continues to grow, holding a benefit concert attended by nearly 200 students this spring and gaining ground in performances at the hospital. Physicians are telling me about the impacts they are seeing in patient care. We are making moves. 

That's all for now. Until next time, keep running. 



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