The name of the event caught his attention, and before he knew it, Srinivas Gopala, Ph.D., a visiting scientist in Rochester, found himself signing up for Mayo Clinic's Healthy Human Race. Dr. Gopala heard about the race from his friend and Mayo Clinic research fellow Manjunatha Shankarappa, M.D. "I was fascinated by the title," Dr. Gopala says. "Its global outlook touched me, and I thought that I should be a part of that and also partner in showcasing it."
But Dr. Gopala had never been a runner. In fact, as he began training, he found it difficult to even run a quarter of a mile. (We hear that.) However, with encouragement from another friend and colleague, Ian Lanza, Ph.D., he began to believe that he could make it. He turned to Mayo's website for guidance and began to follow the seven-week training program to prepare for the 5K run. "I mixed walking and running, and kept a record of how many miles I covered every day," he says. "The progress was slow, but I felt energetic day after day, contrary to my belief that I would be tired."
This is Dr. Gopala's second visit to Mayo Clinic from Thiruvananthapuram, in the Indian state of Kerala. "In 2009, I was here for a year with my family, and this place and people have influenced us from then on," he tells us. "Now, I am back here for a six-month period, and my wife and kids are in India. The Healthy Human Race was an idea worth spreading, and I decided to do something I have never done before."
In fact, Dr. Gopala was so enthusiastic about the race that he encouraged his kids to run a 5K back home -- half a world away -- at the same time that he ran. He went so far as to purchase race T-shirts and send them to his children. Busy schedules and the 10.5-hour time difference didn't make it possible for them to run together, but Dr. Gopala tells us his kids wore their new shirts to school the day before the race. "They loved the shirts both because they were a gift from their father and also because it is from this great institution," Dr. Gopala says. "Many of their friends were curious about their shirts, and my kids explained the event to them. I was happy to know that the Mayo Clinic name was being discussed in a school 9,000 miles away."
Dr. Gopala says finishing the 5K is just the beginning for him. "That day was so much fun," he says. "My next goal is to run a half marathon the next time I visit Mayo Clinic."
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