Sanford doctor wins Bismarck Marathon

Dr. Nicholas Battista finishes first, qualifies for Boston Marathon

Dr. Nicholas Battista of Sanford Bismarck poses for a photo with his medal against a white, yellow and blue backdrop with the marathon logo splashed over it.

When Dr. Nicholas Battista entered his first marathon this fall, he thought he’d run a fast time. But not even he could imagine actually winning.

“It was an out-of-body experience,” said Dr. Battista, a gastroenterologist at Sanford Health Bismarck. “I’d always been a runner. I grew up in a family that participates in a lot of endurance sports, and I knew I always wanted to participate in race and endurance sports, but just through medical school and residency training, I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to dedicate to that.”

Growing up running

Dr. Battista says he “hung up his racing spikes” after high school as he made it through medical school, but picked the sport back up again during fellowship.

His father, who is an Ironman triathlete himself, trained Dr. Battista in his youth. Dr. Battista initially started training for triathlons before deciding to stick with running due to the toll the sport was taking on his body.

“I was training for about 18 weeks,” Dr. Battista said about the lead-up to the Bismarck Marathon, which is sponsored in part by Sanford Health. “I saw it advertised and I’d been running pretty regularly, so I decided to sign up for it.”

“Around mile six or seven, I realized I was in the lead. So that was really cool,” said Dr. Battista.

Marathon complications

The race didn’t go entirely according to plan though.

“I actually wasn’t sure that I was going to finish. … At mile 18 I had a really bad left leg cramp, high up in my hamstring,” said Battista, recalling the race. “I slowed down a little bit to where I thought I could finish and hang on to the lead. …

“At mile 25, I actually did stop for about 30 seconds, but I was able to regroup, stretch out my leg, and carry on.”

Just over a mile later, he broke the tape with a final time of 2:52:55, almost seven full minutes ahead of his closest competitor.

“I had my wife with me across the finish line. That was better than anything there,” said Dr. Battista.

While the win was unforgettable, Dr. Battista said it came with an additional perk. His qualifying time was good enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and he’s hoping to run in that world-famous race next April. Plus, he says he’ll be competing in Bismarck at least one more time as well.

“You have to at least defend it once to be considered a champion,” said Dr. Battista.

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Posted In Bismarck, Physicians and APPs, Running, Sanford Sports