When he was growing up, Nick loved to go for a run. From high school to college, the activity added purpose to his life and gave him a reason to push himself further than he anticipated. No matter how challenging some runs were, he loved every step and how it helped him refocus and recharge.
In early 2022, Nicholas Koontz, MD, a neuroradiologist and director of fellowship programs in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine, tied up his shoelaces again after decades away from a sport that he used to love. Despite the lost time since he had last competed in any races, it didn’t take long for Koontz to feel the passion and adrenaline that he used to experience when he ran during his teenage years.
Since rediscovering this passion, Koontz looks forward to any opportunity to lace up his favorite Hoka running shoes and hit the road (or trail) for runs. Whether grinding out multiple training runs each week or participating in organized endurance races, “Each mile shows me that I'm capable of a lot more than I realize,” said Koontz. “Despite how painful or difficult a run may be, nothing beats the feeling of my body adapting to the environment around me and proving that this is something I can accomplish.”
Author Vybarr Cregan-Reid once mentioned in an interview with National Geographic that running is “something innate to who we are as a species” and that it’s “a means of getting in touch with the environment and our own thoughts.” Whenever Koontz runs, he can see the world around him more clearly and his breathing is never more steady. With each step, it’s as if he’s able to discover more about himself and better understand what matters most.
After crossing the finish line at last year’s Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Koontz thought that it would mean even more to compete in a marathon that would enable him to run for a bigger purpose. After some research, he learned about the Philadelphia Marathon taking place this November. The exciting event is put on by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and proceeds from the race go directly to support cancer research.
Koontz loved the idea of running to fundraise for the AACR. Not only did he have a best friend and two grandparents who all died from cancer, but his father is also a cancer survivor. Additionally, in his everyday work as a radiologist, Koontz understands the heartbreak that happens when a patient is diagnosed with cancer. For Koontz, the idea of using his love for running to support those who have been impacted by devastating types of cancers was a great way to add purpose to action.
"I'm excited to run for a bigger purpose this time by fundraising for the AACR, and I plan to dedicate each mile to friends and loved ones impacted by cancer, as well as those who have generously donated to supporting the important work of the AACR,” he said.
To date, Koontz has run nearly 800 training miles this year in preparation for next month’s marathon and he’s excited to take part in this big race. He loves how running has helped him transform and is excited to put his passion to the test, while supporting cancer research along the way. As the marathon date gets closer, he’s eager to take part in a race alongside thousands of others for a purpose that’s much larger than any single step. However, it’s always with one small initial step that the biggest things are achieved.
To this end, Koontz is running the 2023 Philadelphia Marathon to fundraise directly for the AACR with a goal of raising $1,000 for cancer research. “I am running the 2023 Philadelphia Marathon in memory of those who have bravely battled cancer and to help support the critical missions of the AACR”, said Koontz. “No donation is too small and every cent of your donation goes directly to supporting the critical missions of the AACR. Thank you for considering donating today!”