NKR-Sponsored Kidney Donor Matt Cavanaugh Completes 1K12M Challenge: 12 Marathons in One Year

On December 10, Matt Cavanaugh, a living kidney donor athlete sponsored by the National Kidney Registry, completed the Honolulu Marathon, the final marathon in the 1K12M (One Kidney, 12 Marathons) challenge.

In early 2023, Cavanaugh set out to shatter the misperception that kidney donation imposes physical limits on donors by completing 12 sub-3-hour marathons within one year. Although he completed all 12 marathons, 11 of them under 3 hours, Cavanaugh narrowly missed the sub-3-hour goal for the Honolulu Marathon with an official time of 3:02:51.

Cavanaugh and 1K12M were the subject of numerous news stories throughout the year, as Cavanaugh sought to raise awareness for the need for living kidney donors like him and motivate runners, athletes, and the general public to consider donation.

“This has been a harder year, a harder challenge, than I ever thought it could be,” said Cavanaugh. “I’ve run through freezing cold in Salt Lake City, a lightning storm in Cincinnati, a cancellation in one race, a stretch of four marathons in 29 days, a yearlong groin injury, and somehow, just somehow, held on to my goal: 12 marathons, all under 3 hours, in less than one year. All of them faster than the toughest Boston Marathon qualifying time. Not just by a minute or two—but with a 2:54 average—a full 6 minutes ahead of the goal! More importantly though, we did what we set out to accomplish—to demonstrate that there is no limit on life after kidney donation. You can donate a kidney, save a life, and go right back to doing any physical activity you care to do—up to and including a dozen marathons!”

1K12M Marathons and Cavanaugh’s times

  1. February 26: Publix Atlanta Marathon (2:53:25)
  2. March 19: Los Angeles Marathon (2:51:03)
  3. April 22: Salt Lake City Marathon (2:50:06)
  4. May 7: Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon (2:52:09)
  5. May 21: Denver Colfax Marathon (2:55:21)
  6. June 4: Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon (2:53:20)
  7. October 7: Twin Cities – makeup marathon (2:59:07)
  8. October 14: Hartford Marathon (2:54:42)
  9. October 29: Marine Corps Marathon (2:55:05)
  10. November 5: New York City Marathon (2:55:38)
  11. November 19: Philadelphia Marathon (2:53:28)
  12. December 11: Honolulu Marathon (3:02:51)

Cavanaugh was joined in the 1K12M challenge by Hilary Baude, who ran 10 marathons plus the Ironman Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada, and became the first living donor in history to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, which she completed on October 14.

1K12M is Matt Cavanaugh’s latest attempt to raise awareness for living kidney donation and demonstrate the fitness of living kidney donors. In 2022, Cavanaugh became the first living kidney donor to finish the full 4 Deserts race series, which covered 1,000 kilometers across Namibia, Georgia, Chile, and Antarctica. He won the Last Desert/Antarctica leg and finished as the fastest American to ever race the 4 Deserts (with one kidney or two).

About Matt Cavanaugh

Matt Cavanaugh, PhD, is a retired US military officer who serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of the National Kidney Donation Organization. He twice earned the Bronze Star Medal, as well as the Combat Action Badge, for his service in Iraq. Matt donated his left kidney on September 15, 2021, to a stranger and started a donation chain.

About Hilary Baude

Hilary Baude is a kindergarten teacher who donated her kidney to a stranger in May of 2021 and is now an active member of the National Kidney Donation Organization. Hilary was an NCAA Division 1 swimmer and has run more than 20 marathons to date. She competed in her first Ironman in 2022, placing third in her age group.

About the National Kidney Registry

The National Kidney Registry (www.kidneyregistry.org) is an organization whose mission is to save and improve the lives of people facing kidney failure by increasing the quality, speed, and number of living donor transplants while protecting all living donors.

For more information on the 1K12M challenge, visit the Donor Games website (www.livingdonorgames.org). If you are considering living kidney donation, complete an initial screening form to begin the process.

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Founding Sponsors

  • National Kidney Foundation
  • National Kidney Registry
  • National Kidney Donation Organization