By | January 23, 2012 4:37 pm

From back-to-back marathons to an extreme obstacle course, UCF College of Medicine M.D. students cranked up their stamina, mental grit and teamwork at the Walt Disney World marathon in January and the Tough Mudder competition in December.

M-2 student Jennifer Bazemore put her endurance to the test by competing in Disney’s marathon weekend. She tackled Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, 39.3 miles over two days. On Jan. 7, she was up for a 5 a.m. start for the half-marathon, along with an estimated 22,435 runners, to cover a 13.1-mile course through Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. She finished in 2:30:43.

Early the next morning, she was back at the starting line for the full marathon. The 26.2-mile race took Jennifer and about 13,504 runners through all four Disney theme parks. She finished the course in 4:44:17.

“I knew I wanted to do the marathon, and my brother wanted to do the Goofy Challenge. He motivated me,” said Jennifer.

Although this was her first marathon, Jennifer is no stranger to running. She took up the sport about four years ago, and often enters races —  such as OUC’s Half Marathon in December —  with her roommate, M-2 student Casey deDeugd. College of Medicine faculty member Dr. Mujtaba Husain won the 5K for his age division in the OUC event.

Jennifer said careful planning allowed her to balance training for a marathon with medical school and that she was rewarded with the benefits of stress relief and an important lesson about motivation. “Training for a marathon is like training to be a doctor … it’s not something you can do overnight,” she said.

Last month, College of Medicine runners gathered at the Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City to take on the extreme obstacle course called Tough Mudder. They included M-3s Ashley Curry, Brittany Moscato, Luke Lin and Shawna Bellew, M-2s Ricardo Molero and Chris Cooper, and M-1 John Fuller.

The 11- to 12-mile course incorporated about 20 obstacles to test strength and endurance, including the Chernobyl Jacuzzi, which entailed swimming through an industrial dumpster filled with ice water. “It is an amazing challenge that pushes your physical limits while demanding teamwork to achieve success. I think this is very similar to our journey through medicine,” Chris said.

The event attracted about 16,000 people on December 3 and December 4, and raised money for the Wounded Warrior project, which provides programs and services to severely injured military members as they transition to civilian life. To date, Tough Mudder challenges have raised more than $2 million for Wounded Warrior.

Ashley said teamwork was the most valuable part of the experience.

“I have always found the lessons I learn through sports to be valuable in my professional career,” she said. “We are always told by our professors that medicine is a team sport.”

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