Over the past three years, Nick Stukel (MED/MBA’18) has successfully completed a marathon on all seven continents. Stukel began the seven-continent challenge in Thailand in June 2014 and completed his goal by running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., in October 2017.
Stukel was inspired to take on the challenge a few months into his MD/MBA coursework. Finding himself consumed by studying, he thought that running a marathon might help him regain focus. After discovering the Seven Continents Club, Stukel said he became “hooked on the idea of accomplishing the feat during my time at Georgetown.”
However, Stukel wanted to ensure that the challenge was not simply about himself. He founded the Strums & Strides initiative, which works to improve hospital music programs through a partnership with the nonprofit Musicians On Call. Each marathon served as a springboard for raising awareness and funds for the program, ultimately garnering nearly $12,000 in donations.
Although Stukel enjoyed all the marathon courses, Antarctica’s course was his favorite and the most challenging.
“The cold temperatures, intense wind, and hills made things pretty challenging, but the other runners and I had a great support crew that helped us get through,” Stukel said. “At the same time, looking out at an endless landscape of white and blue while running on Antarctica was an incredible experience and made it one of my favorite courses. It’s the only time I have ever run past penguins and seals, which helped distract from the hills and wind!”
The challenge allowed Stukel to see much of the world, although not always with ease. After his Asian marathon in Thailand, he decided to travel to Beijing to see the Great Wall of China.
“Unfortunately, I had to learn the intricacies of China’s 72-hour visa-free visit period from a small holding area in Shanghai’s airport while booking a very expensive last-minute flight to Hong Kong to comply with their policies,” Stukel said. “I learned my lesson, though, and haven’t been kicked out of a country since!”
Stukel’s decision to finish the seven-continent challenge in Washington, D.C., was no accident. “Over the past four years, Washington, D.C., has become my home. I love the Georgetown community, and I had a strong desire to complete the global marathon initiative where it all began,” Stukel said.
He was cheered on by his family and Georgetown friends, many of whom also ran the marathon or 10K in support of his final Strums & Strides race.
“It was an incredible feeling to run the last marathon alongside the monuments I have been training next to for the past four years,” Stukel said.