On Monday, Dr. Nicholas Battista of Bismarck will have quite a story to tell his co-workers. Erica Carlson of Hudson, Wis., won’t have to wait that long.
Battista and Carlson ran away with the men’s and women’s divisions at the 40th annual Bismarck Marathon, which wrapped along 26.2 mostly flat miles through Bismarck before ending with a party atmosphere at Cottonwood Park on Saturday. It was the first marathon win for both runners.
Battista’s winning time was 2:52:55 or 6 minutes and 51 seconds faster than runner-up Zane Frick of Watford City. Frick ended in 2:59.46, making him and Battista the only runners to come in under three hours.
“Best time I ever ran,” Battista said with a laugh. “No one really knows I did it so I can’t wait to tell everyone on Monday that I won the marathon.”
As the Sanford gastroenterologist neared the finish line, his wife Amani waited and they crossed the line together. He said it was the thought of Amani waiting at the finish line that kept him going the final five miles.
“Around mile 22, I stopped for about 30 seconds because my left hamstring totally cramped up,” Battista said. “I took a turn and it really seized up. But it relented and I was able to carry on, just thinking about my wife the whole time. This lady is my most amazing wife and the most amazing woman in the world. I can’t do it without her.”
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Battista’s family has called Bismarck home for a year after relocating from Michigan following a residency and fellowship. He said the town has everything a family could want.
“It’s a small town but you still have enough options here, enough variety, and it allows you to spend more time with family, which is the most important thing, but also spend as much time with patients as possible,” Battista said.
And he made time to train for a race perfectly suited for a first-timer. “The course was amazing. Everything was set up nicely,” he stated.
Battista said there isn’t another marathon in his future yet. “I’m going to take time off to spend more time with my family because they really allowed me to train up to this. Now it’s family time.”
Carlson, meanwhile, turned in a personal-best 3:08:06 and more than 27 minutes faster than Missy Jansen of St. Cloud, Minn., was second in 3:35.41. She was third overall, beaten by only Battista and Frick on the men’s side. It was Carlson’s ninth marathon and her first victory in what she considered “a Saturday race.”
“My husband (Sten Carlson) is a pastor and we were looking for a Saturday race,” Carlson said. “I wanted him to come because he never gets to see me run.”
The pair reveled in their win, but soon would be on the road back to Wisconsin. “Work tomorrow morning,” said Sten Carlson, lead pastor at Midcurrent Church.
Erica made sure they could get an early start home. “I was hoping for a sub-three (hour), so I was a little off my goal. But this is a PR, so I feel super good about it.”
Carlson called the first 13 miles "pure bliss, so fun,” she said. “Then at mile 16, I thought I had 10 to go and that felt a little daunting. I just kept saying ‘you can do it, you can do it, you can do it.’ I knew I would finish.”
Carlson said training in the hills around Hudson made the flat Bismarck course ideal. “I felt really ready for a flat, fast course,” she said.
John Watkins of Bismarck won the men’s half marathon in a time of 1:14:48, while Orinthal Striggles of Columbia, S.C., was second in 1:16:27. April Lund of Bismarck won the women’s division in a time of 1:16:34 and Danielle Turk-Bly was second in 1:22:27.
Bismarck runners Kevin Stankiewicz and Ashley Haugen were winners in the 10K. Stankiewicz turned in a 39:03 and Haugen a 47:42.
Ricky Symington of Mandan and Kendra Holloway of Bismarck were winners in the 5K, Symington in 18:17 and Holloway in 21:22.
Michelle Holly of Bismarck was the overall and women’s winner in the 5K walk in a time of 38:12. Men’s winner Pat Joyce of Dallas, Texas, had a 38:55.