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Vol. LXV, No. 9
April 26, 2013

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NCIís Hunsberger Mixes Exercise, Commute

NCI’s Dr. Sally Hunsberger has a unique commute.

NCI’s Dr. Sally Hunsberger has a unique commute.

Photo: Dana Steinberg

(Story in an occasional series on NIH’ers who embrace alternative commuting modes)

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it takes Dr. Sally Hunsberger about 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to work. But none of that time involves sitting in traffic. On those mornings, she leaves at 6 a.m. from her Mt. Pleasant, D.C. neighborhood, and runs 11 miles to her office at Executive Plaza. “Slow and steady,” she says of her morning runs to work. She does this commute year-round.

“I grew up in Indiana, so cold weather doesn’t bother me,” she said. “I’ll admit it’s a pain when sidewalks aren’t shoveled. But I love running. It’s when I do my best thinking and planning.”

On mornings when she runs to work, Hunsberger goes home via Metro. The other three mornings, she’ll bike the short distance to the subway and hop on a train. But on days when she doesn’t run to work, she still jogs a 7-mile loop before leaving for NIH.

“Running to work is more efficient since I want to go for a long run anyway. So I feel like I’m saving time and helping the environment.”

Hunsberger began working at NIH in 1991 as a biostatistician at NHLBI. In 2000, she moved over to NCI, where she works with CTEP (Clinical Trials Evaluation Program).

“When I was younger, I worked in downtown Bethesda and would run 5 miles to work every day and 5 miles home. But once I had kids, I cut back to twice a week.”

Hunsberger has been running since she was 18. She no longer runs marathons but previously has run 6 of them, including ones in Richmond, Va. (where she went to graduate school), Charlottesville, Va., and the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C.

“When I ran marathons, I would feel pain but ignore it,” she said, so she decided to stop. “I’m a little nervous to run one now.”

For other exercise, Hunsberger plays Ultimate Frisbee once a week. “That will be my injury downfall,” she admits. She also coaches basketball at Oyster-Adams Bilingual School in Woodley Park, where her daughter is a 7th-grader. She says she enjoys jumping into the game on occasion when the team is short on players.

Hunsberger played basketball and tennis in college. “I ran to keep in shape for these activities,” she said. “Now I still run for an hour on days when I don’t run to work.”

If you have an alternative mode of commuting to and from NIH, especially in this era of BRAC-related congestion, let the NIH Record know and perhaps we can arrange a brief interview.—Dana Steinberg

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