NorthBay Engineer Aims for the Impossible

Chris Dalton gets a kick out of finishing things that other people think are impossible.

When you marry that with his love of running, you get a 100-mile endurance run that took the NorthBay Healthcare network engineer through the foothills and mountains of Northern California in 27 hours, 22 minutes and 56 seconds this summer.

If you think running 100 miles is over the top, don't even ask him about the training.This golden buckle was the reward for Chris Dalton after his endurance run.

"I put in more than 1,400 miles running and 600 miles biking just to prepare for this run," said Chris, who in recent years ran the Boston Marathon with other NorthBay Healthcare colleagues - Ed Ballerini, R.N., James Bronk, M.D., and Jerry Wilcox, director of Diagnostic Imaging. In fact, Chris has now run more ultramarathons than actual marathons.

He was one of only 369 who qualified to compete in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, and was able to run with some of the most elite endurance runners in the world, including Dean Karnazes, author of "Ultramarathon Man."

Chris, who has been running off and on for 25 years (mostly on), climbed 18,700 feet, and dealt with a drop of 23,000 feet over the course, which stretched from Squaw Valley to Auburn.

"The first 15 or so miles weren't too bad," Chris recalled.

He did have one fall, around mile 20, but quickly recovered.

Along the way, he thought about all the people who have supported him, especially wife, Cristina, his mother, pacers, friends and coworkers.

Chris Dalton (dark blue shirt) with his team during a break in the action at the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run."I did my best to smile and think of all the training that had gone into this run, and how there are a lot of people thinking of me. While I was out there for a long time by myself, I never felt alone," he said.

Before this race, he'd run a couple of 100-Ks (62 miles), and he felt miserable at the finish.

"But getting to mile 62 at Forest Hill, I felt surprisingly good," he said, despite a blister on his foot. "I swapped for some dry socks and shoes, double checked the tape on my foot and set off."

At one point, he had to cross a river.

"It got pretty deep in some spots, up to my belly, but I just held on to the rope and moved on," he recalled.

Although the water felt great, his legs started to tighten up. And then there was the nausea he had to fight, between miles 85 and 92. Chris Dalton crosses a river during his endurance run.

"The aid stations were a challenge to get food down. The more I took in, the worse my stomach felt," he remembered. "Not to mention I was starting to get grumpy. The miles were clicking off but I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere."

Finally he reached Robie Point, his final climb before the finish.

"I had been fighting for so long and there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel," he recalled. His team met him at Mile 99 to run with him.

Getting to the track at Placer High School, he shed his vest and started circling.

"I could see the finish line. I got a big cheer from the crowd when the announcer said this was my first 100 mile run. Crossing the line, I was most excited to just be done. I had made it from Squaw Valley down to the Placer High school track."

Chances are, he won't slow down any time, soon. He'd like to do another 100-mile run, with the goal of finishing in under 24 hours.

In addition, he's planning to coach the Dixon High School cross country team this year, a new endeavor for him.

"I've given free advice to my friends and family who want to know more, but this is the first time I'm putting a team together and formally coaching."

He also will continue to host a running group for beginners one night a week.

"We do two minutes of running, then one minute of walking, for about 30 minutes," he said. Want to join him? Email him at cdalton@northbay.org for details.

"Anyone can do it, and everyone is welcome," he said.