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Marathon Men

Close partnership between professor and patient boosts fitness

Mark Haykowsky

Mark Haykowsky hoped to help prolong heart transplant recipient Dwight Kroening's life when the two first met more than 10 years ago.

At the time, Dr. Haykowsky was a professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Kroening, who had a heart transplant in 1986, had signed up for one of Haykowsky's exercise rehabilitation programs.

The two became friends.

Kroening, who had been physically active prior to his transplant and increased his participation in long-distance races after recuperating from the surgery, took an interest in Haykowsky.

The interest stemmed from concern.

He said, 'I'm going to outlive you,'" recalls Haykowsky, a renowned researcher in exercise physiology and rehabilitation medicine who joined UTA last year as the Moritz Chair of Geriatric Nursing Research. "I'm worried about you."

Before long, Haykowsky was training for the Vancouver Marathon, which they ran together.

"He shamed me into it," Haykowsky says with a chuckle.

In 2014, they ran the Boston Marathon together and the New York City Marathon the following year. There have been other adventures. A couple of years ago, together with Ken Reiss-a former doctoral student of Haykowsky's-they participated in a triathlon called "Escape from Alcatraz," which includes a 1.5-mile swim from the old prison, an 18-mile bike ride, and an 8-mile run. Reiss swam, Kroening biked, and Haykowsky ran.

But Haykowsky isn't sure if he will run any more marathons.

""Training for marathons takes too much time," he says. "I'm starting all over here at UTA. But I will run a half-marathon for sure."