There’s nothing like a nice run to relieve stress. And since Dr. Vishal Gupta is a surgeon at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, he can have a great deal of stress build up during the work day.
Maybe that’s why marathons and, better yet, ultramarathons, are so appealing to him.
“People ask why I am doing this,” he said. “This is my stress-buster. It calms me down, and takes the stress away.”
In this latest example of Gupta’s devotion to long distance running, he’ll be taking part in his first New York City Marathon. The race takes place on Sunday morning. Who wouldn’t want to do a race like that if you could? It’s something of a bucket list item for him.
“It’s amazing,” Gupta said. “It’s the biggest marathon in the world. You go through all of the boroughs, and the crowds are amazing.”
The route that he took to get to the starting line at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island is a very unlikely one. Gupta grew up in Karnal, India, a small town about three hours north of Delhi.
“I was a sprinter when I was in high school - 100 meters, 200 meters,” he said.
Gupta gave up running during his medical training. After medical school and residency in Delhi, he arrived in this country in 2008. After a stint in Indianapolis, Gupta arrived in Buffalo the next year to work on heads and necks at the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center at Roswell Park.
“I’ve been in love with Buffalo ever since,” he said.
And Buffalo loved him back, at least in the area of food. Gupta found that he had gained 70 pounds over the years ... and didn’t like it.
“After medical school, I lost touch with my athletic side,” he said.
His cure was running. Before he knew it, Gupta had completed four marathons and run some ultramarathons as well. The pounds went away. He has tried to do the Buffalo Marathon or Half-Marathon each May.
“This is such a great running community,” he said. “If I want to do a trail run, I can be somewhere in half an hour. I can do whatever I want in Buffalo.”
It’s been a good summer and fall locally for training for an autumn marathon. There's been a lot of warmth in recent weeks with few damp, chilly days. That’s good news for Gupta, who describes this as a “more serious marathon” than some of his others.
“The training is a bit more than others,” he said. “I’ve done a little more work for it. I’ve gone to Orchard Park, done more hills, and done some research on how to do it at a pace I want.”
Like everyone else, Gupta noticed that we had a few spectacular days this past week, and he couldn’t help but do a little running in it.
“I should be resting, but it’s been such a great week,” he said.
Gupta has some goals for Sunday’s race, but he’s trying to be realistic about reaching them.
“I had wanted to do it in 2:59 initially, but I just did a marathon and a 100K (62 miles),” he said. “I’m kind of tired. I’ve already qualified for Boston, so I’d just like to beat that time of 3:09.
"Anything better than that would be OK. I was lucky to get in to the race, so I want to enjoy the experience.
“The hardest part about New York is that the crowd is so amazing. I keep thinking I might run faster than I should at the start. I must keep my horses in check, and not get carried away.”
Gupta planned to leave on Saturday for the race, and wanted to be sure to pick up some souvenirs before the event. The bus to the starting line leaves at 5 a.m. Sunday, and he’ll actually start running at 9:50 a.m.
After finishing, Gupta will spend the rest of Sunday hopefully celebrating the completion of the marathon, and then come home Monday. Here he’ll tell his friends all about it.
“They think I’m crazy. That’s a known fact now,” he said with a laugh.
Then the surgeon will go back to running in the streets of his adopted home - which is a much better experience than running in his native land.
“I went back to India, staying with my family, and ran,” he said. “The traffic is chaotic, there was lot of honking, and the streets are crowded. I felt like I was risking my life.”
• Bob Ivory Run, 8K, 845 Kenmore Ave., Tonawanda, 9 a.m. Nov. 6.
• Dominator XC Race, 1.8 and 3.6 miles, Delaware Park, Buffalo, 12 noon Nov. 6.
• Iroquois Foundation 4-Miler Salutes Veterans, 2111 Girdle Road, Elma, 9 a.m. Nov. 12, 655-1167.
• Lindsay’s Legacy Run, 5K, Clinton Park, Tonawanda, 11 a.m. Nov. 12, 695-7406.
• Run with the PAC, 5K, 2900 South Park Ave., Lackawanna, 10 a.m. Nov. 13, 345-7513.
• Veterans Day 5K, Williams Center at Fredonia State College, 1 p.m. Nov. 13, 673-3423.