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.

The Last Continent

Done. After three years of planning and months of early-morning runs in the cold and wind, a major chapter in my Strums & Strides journey across the world is now coming to a close. I finished the marathon (about an hour ahead of my goal time!), explored some of the most remote places on the planet with the coolest mom I know, and forged new friendships with an incredibly adventurous group of people. This makes the task of distilling the journey down to a couple paragraphs seem as intimidating as the marathon itself…

I think the best way to summarize the Antarctic experience is through a quick story from one of our last days on the continent. The expedition leaders woke us up early – just before sunrise – and after a quick breakfast, we climbed down the ship’s gangway into zodiacs (small, sturdy rubber boats) for a morning cruise around a bay called Cierva Cove. My mom and I hopped in the first zodiac with ten other eager passengers, and we quickly broke away from the group to get a close-up with some whales that someone had spotted earlier. As we approached the massive mammals, our driver cut the engine and we sat there, listening. The silence was unlike anything I had ever heard before: cold and crisp nothingness, occasionally interrupted by the gurgling of whales breathing or the crashing thunder of a piece of glacier calving into the ocean to form an iceberg. The peace and perspective of this moment became a theme throughout my time in Antarctica (interestingly, even during the marathon) and it is something I will carry with me for a long time.

In fact, as I near the end of my Strums & Strides initiative (Australia in July, and DC in October), I continue to learn that the perspective gained from this journey is just as impactful as the marathons themselves. What started out as a race across the planet for the healing power of music has slowly become much more, and I continue to be awed by the beauty of our planet and the people who call it home.

Time to get a little R&R before training begins for the Australia race. Until next time, keep running.

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