News Stories

Virtual Marathon

“We’ve had virtual conferences, virtual meetings, virtual Happy Hour and now we’ve had a Virtual Marathon,” says Keith Brandt, MD.

The Illinois Marathon was scheduled for April 25, but was cancelled to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those involved. Brandt, an accomplished runner who had completed 49 previous marathons, was looking forward to making the 2020 Illinois Marathon his 50th. Rather than complaining about a missed opportunity, Brandt decided to run his own one-man-marathon.

“The weather the next day was gorgeous, so I decided to go for it,” Brandt says. Brandt, the William G. Hamm Professor of Surgery in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, ran 26.2 miles with no crowd and no finish line. “I even sang the National Anthem at the beginning,” Brandt says. “I think I scared the birds. There was no medal, but it still counts…”

Other members of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery congratulated Brandt’s accomplishment later that day:

“Congratulations!” says Marissa Tenenbaum, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery at West County Plastic Surgeons of Washington University. “I did my first marathon 1 year ago in coordination with the NFL draft! No one knew there was a marathon happening Nashville that weekend!”

“Hats off, Keith!” says John Felder, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, whose work with selective arterialization helps patients avoid foot amputation.

“Saw Keith on our ride this morning,” says Terence Myckatyn, MD, Professor of Surgery, who works with Brandt at West County Plastic Surgeons. “He was rocking it. Not just 26.2 but 26.2 with style!”

“Wow, a beautiful day to do it,” Ida Fox, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, whose practice with tendon and nerve transfer surgery provides people with renewed upper extremity function after cervical spinal cord injury. Fox acknowledges that she has not run any marathons, but is inspired by Brandt’s accomplishment.

“Thanks, everyone,” Brandt says in response to this outpouring of congratulations. “It’s nice being part of this great family.”

Brandt joined the School of Medicine as a Hand and Microsurgery fellow in the early 1990s. Following his fellowship, Brandt returned to his home state of Texas for his first academic position at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. When Siteman Cancer Center was in the process of applying for designation as a National Cancer Center, Brandt was recruited to provide care devoted to cancer reconstruction. Shortly after his return to the Department of Surgery, Brandt became Plastic Surgery Residency Program Director—a title now held by Tenenbaum. This is when Brandt became serious about running.

“The residents would get into a lot of trouble and cause great consternation,” Brandt jokes. Rather than take his frustration out on the residents, Brandt took up running as a way to stay healthy and recharge. “Marathoning has been a great stress reliever.”

In addition to his work with the division, Brandt is Executive Director of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The ABPS is the medical specialty board responsible for establishing standards for physicians to achieve and maintain certification in plastic surgery. As Executive Director of the ABPS, Brandt helps ensure that all ABPS certified physicians, are fully trained and maintaining their knowledge regarding all the advances in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

The family of plastic and reconstructive surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine is a team committed to providing the best possible care to all patients, in a collaborative and multidisciplinary setting. With offerings of a residency and fellowship program, and research that leads innovations in the field, the division is a strong family with an accomplished history.