The Marathon Runner

The Marathon Runner

By Emily Rust

It's March, and Nick Stukel, BS'12, is getting ready to embark on his fifth marathon -- this one in Antarctica. It's all part of his global pilgrimage to run a marathon on all of the seven continents.

Donning warm clothes and surrounded by some of nature’s most mesmerizing features, Stukel begins his race. Surprisingly, it’s a little warm (well, relatively speaking for this region), so some of the course is covered in mud. Stukel carries on, completing the 26.2 miles in three hours and 48 minutes, alongside runners from around the world. Five continents down, two to go.

At this point, with races planned for July 2 in Australia and Oct. 22 in the United States, he says he’s trying to be the first medical student to run a marathon on each continent, according to records kept by the Seven Continents Club. Stukel is also in his fourth year of medical school at Georgetown University, where he is concurrently earning his MBA.

“It’s a tricky balance,” Stukel says. “One thing Creighton taught me: If you’re passionate about something, you can make it work.”

The fact that Stukel is running marathons may shock some people from his small hometown of Gregory, South Dakota (population 1,295). When Stukel was in high school, he quit track in the middle of a meet. He didn’t run again until college, when some friends talked him into running a half-marathon in Chicago.

Now hooked, Stukel wanted to do more than just run marathons, he wanted to combine his newfound passion for running with his passions for music and health care. Partnering with Musicians on Call, a nonprofit that brings music to the bedsides of patients in health care facilities, Stukel started his own nonprofit, Strums & Strides. The website chronicles his marathon journey while raising funds for hospital music programs.

From June 2014 to this March, he had run marathons in Thailand, Tanzania, Germany, Argentina and Antarctica. (The Gold Coast Marathon in Australia came after the Creighton University Magazine deadline.) He hopes to complete his global quest with the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22. Twenty-five friends are planning to run alongside Stukel.

After graduating from Creighton, Stukel lived in Guatemala for a year as part of a health care immersion program. He plans to return there for a medical school rotation next spring.