The students began the relay at 6 a.m. at the UCF Reflecting Pond at the Orlando campus and finished at the College of Medicine’s Tavistock Green in Lake Nona about five hours later. They ran in shifts of two-to-four runners for most of the race but all 24 runners participated in the final leg, 2.2 miles down Lake Nona Boulevard and into medical city. The runners hope to raise about $1,000 from sponsors to donate to the College of Medicine Scholarship Fund and make the Nonathon an annual event.
Students Luke Lin and Steven Bright organized the event as a way to celebrate their first year of medical school, honor the new College of Medicine building and give back in thanks for all the community has given them. “We’re grateful for all the generosity we’ve received from the Central Florida community, and through this run we want to create opportunities for other medical students,” Luke said. “I can’t wait to do the race again next year.” Fellow student runner Briana Gapsis joked that what Luke, an avid sportsman and distance runner, actually meant was, “I can’t wait to run another relay in 30 minutes.”
The students used the college’s Gonfalon, the official academic flag of the College of Medicine, as a relay baton of sorts. Each group carried the folded flag in a backpack as they ran. When the race was over, the students set up the Gonfalon in front of the College of Medicine.
Several College of Medicine friends and family members gathered at Lake Nona to celebrate the race’s completion. And one four-legged COM friend even participated. Kendal, the 5-year-old dog of student Susan Salganik, joined his owner as she rollerbladed to Lake Nona. Kendal often runs with Susan as she rollerblades and also runs with her roommate, first-year medical student Anika Mirick. “Anika is Mom 2,” said Susan. “She takes him out running and got him in good shape.”
The race, which included plenty of laughter, cheering and even impromptu soccer play, is a healthy way for the students to de-stress after a challenging first year and recent exams, Steven said. “It feels great,” he said, “to have so many people – more than half the class – sign up to run 24.7 miles.”