Nick Stukel set out with a lofty goal: to run a marathon on all seven continents.
He began his quest with a race in Phuket, Thailand in 2014 and would press on, completing marathons in Tanzania, Germany, Argentina, Antarctica and Australia, capping it off with the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. last month.
Over the course of a little over three years, Stukel ran – and sweated, and froze – his way into the annals of marathoners. According to records kept by the Seven Continents Club, he says, he is the first medical student to accomplish the globe-spanning feat; not to mention, one of the youngest people to do so.
But closer to his heart is the money he raised over the course of his quest. The bulk of that money – more than $10,000 – goes straight to Musicians On Call, a nonprofit that brings music to the bedsides of patients in health care facilities.
Stukel attends medical school at Georgetown University, where he is concurrently earning his MBA. He is a 2012 graduate of Creighton University’s College of Arts and Sciences.
“One thing Creighton taught me,” he says, “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, Stukel started his own nonprofit, Strums & Strides. The website chronicles his marathon journey while raising funds for hospital music programs.
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 in the spring.