Meet the Marcher – Mike Kostashuk

Kidney Marcher Embarks on Unique Journey Amidst Ancient Wonders

Mike Kostashuk hails from Calgary but has spent most of his adult life working internationally. This year, work has taken him to the heart of Cairo, Egypt. He will be trading in the the peaks of the Rocky Mountains for those of the Pyramids. He’ll be marching in and around some of the iconic sights of Egypt as Captain of Team “Walk Like an Egyptian”. 

Mike has been rigorously training alongside friend, colleague, and world-record-holding ultra-endurance athlete Chris Gaskin. Chris will also be a member of his Kidney March team for 2023. To cope with the scorching 42°C desert temperatures, Mike and Chris have adopted a unique training approach. They complete around 20 km in the mornings outside while it is cool then take on about 10km midday on elliptical and treadmill machines at a local fitness center.

The goal? To be ready to cover as much of their 100 kilometres as possible on Saturday and wrap up the remaining kilometers on Sunday. (See his full plan below)

Mike wanted to do Kidney March for many years, but never made the leap until last year, but after doing it for the first time he remarks, “I should have done it a long time ago. I’m hooked. Three days of great conversations with people. It puts our life in context – if you are healthy and can maintain your health you really need to appreciate it and give back.”

Charity and giving run in Mike’s blood, stemming from his upbringing with a mother who was actively involved in philanthropic endeavors. Mike doesn’t suffer from kidney disease himself, but has witnessed its impact on others. A colleague had been complaining of pain and thought it was due to too much travel only to discover it was kidney cancer. Thankfully it was found and removed. This experience highlighted the silent and often surprising nature of a kidney disease diagnosis for Mike. Kidney disease is often not something you think of happening until it happens to someone close to you. Additionally, kidney stones have significantly affected members of his family, further fueling his passion to support kidney research and positive interventions. 

For Mike, Kidney March is more than just a charity walk—it’s an opportunity to make a meaningful impact and bring the global community together to help others and fight kidney disease.

With the end goal in mind, Mike reflects on the journey’s challenges and the ultimate sense of accomplishment that awaits him. His journey encompasses not just physical distance, but the camaraderie and shared purpose that Kidney March fosters. “Kidney March is beneficial worldwide and it’s helping a lot of people. It doesn’t matter where we are our objectives are the same and we are doing this with the end goal in mind. When facing challenging hills and more on the route – you might wonder is it worth it? And at the end of day everyone knows it is. Our goal is not the just the physical distance but the whole Kidney March event and the sense of accomplishment after you walk under that 100-kilometre finish sign.”

He’s going to miss getting to know everyone and hearing their stories the most this year. As he embarks on this exceptional Kidney March experience, Mike plans to document his journey and the unique challenges he’ll face in Cairo. Although he will be nine hours ahead, he wants to make sure his Kidney March Community can connect with him from afar.  You can follow his journey and show your support by cheering for him on his Instagram account @mgkostashuk.

This weekend (August 19th and 20th) will be a challenge he’s looked forward to for over a month. On  Saturday they are heading to the Saqqara necropolis for a 20km session and they will be trying to fit the Red Pyramid of Dahshur, the White Pyramid of Amenemhat II, and the Black Pyramid of Amenemhat III, to round out the colours of Kidney March 2023. Check on his Instagram for photos to follow.

Here’s their plan for their Kidney March weekend which he hopes to complete in two days:

DAY 1 – The Morning will take them through the Wadi Degla (valley in Arabic) and back on the north plateau – It’s a natural parkland formed by the ever-expanding wadi (stream/river valley) stretching from eastern Cairo all the way to the Red Sea. For a rough comparison, imagine Fish Creek Park totally barren of trees, water, grasses, and large wildlife. At the turn around his wife (Peggy) will hopefully be there with refreshments.  After a lunch break, they’ll head to a local gym for a much cooler 10-12km treadmill/elliptical session and then rest up for an evening 8-10km walk on the Cairo corniche (Nile shoreline).
DAY 2 –He plans to “wave the flag” at the Djoser pyramid at the Saqqara necropolis in the southwest corner of Cairo.

Mike’s Two Training Tip Takeaways:
• Try different combinations of gear while you’re training. Throughout his training, he found the gear the that worked the best for him, surprisingly it was a different pair of shoes that suited his feet and marina wool socks. He encourages the marchers to try different combinations, because what works for you might be different from others or from what you thought would work. “Bringing winter wool ski socks to Cairo sounds crazy, but I have had no issues with them even in the heat.”  Through the training process you can tackle all those gear issues and avoid irritation early on.
• The other big thing is stretching. Get into a routine. He does eight minutes of basic stretching exercises in the morning to prepare and of the day to relax. It’s a big help.