BRRC News Articles

Friday, May 26, 2006

'I do it because I can.'

Carol Dellinger is about to run her 200th marathon – and it won't be her last

Carol Dellinger runs on the rural roads near her Mead-area home after work. Dellinger plans on running her 200th marathon in a few weeks.

C arol Dellinger has an athletic-shoe contract with Saucony.

And an endorsement from GU, an energy-gel company. And one from Wigwam socks.

At 43, the Spokane woman is slated to run her 200th marathon in a couple of weeks. She's believed to be the youngest woman to reach that milestone.

That means that for the past 17 years she has competed in a marathon – that's 26.2 miles – every two or three weeks.

To see her, though, you'd never suspect it.

Dellinger's no rail-thin runner type. She's short and squat, built more like a pear than a string bean. She usually crosses the finish line in around six hours; elite runners do it in half that time.

And yet, after all those races, she has never dropped out of a marathon. And she has never had a running-related injury.

Slow and steady may not win the race, but the style has kept Dellinger plugging along like the Energizer bunny.

"A lot of people say, 'You could run them faster,' " she says. "But that's not my mission. It's a journey. … I'm competitive, but at the same time I don't really care how I finish."

With her blond-tipped, porcupine-spiked hair, Dellinger stands out in a crowd. She talks faster than she runs, so it's not unusual for her to know somebody's life story after hitting the pavement with them for a few miles.

"Oh my goodness. She is so effervescent," says Jean Greene, 71, a Spokane runner who has been friends with Dellinger ever since the two met at a race nearly 20 years ago. "She's just overflowing with good cheer.

"She's just one of those bubbly people that keeps going and going. I don't know how in the world she manages to do what she does."

Dellinger was playing semipro softball in the late '80s when she decided to take up running to increase her speed around the bases.

A year later, she put away her softball glove for good. And in 1989 she ran her first 26-miler, the Capital City Marathon in Olympia.

As she finished those last steps, she knew she was hooked.

"It was better than any home run I'd ever hit," says Dellinger, a dental assistant.

This year's Capital City run took place Sunday, and Dellinger was there, too.

Her 200th marathon will be in San Diego on June 4.

As she has finished more races and become more well-known among other runners, Dellinger has earned a reputation for her inspiring story.

"She's the one I like to bring in for my motivation clinic," says Mike Wakabayashi, a Spokane runner who has done more than 120 marathons and who coaches other beginning marathoners. "I think she's just an amazing woman."

Dellinger even spurred on the dentist she works for to take up running.

It didn't go well at first, though.

"I ran 100 yards and threw up," says Dr. Steven Bates.

But he stuck with it.

He has since completed seven marathons and one 50-mile race.

"I just took the challenge one day," Bates says. "She challenged me to do it. … I've run ever since."

Dellinger's e-mail address is Cdruns26pt2. Her license plate is CD26PT2. And she has earrings and a necklace that read, of course, 26.2.

She logs some 65,000 air miles and estimates she spends $6,000 in travel expenses a year getting to and from races. But she gets free running shoes each month as part of her deal with the shoe company.

"I'm probably the slowest person in the whole world sponsored by Saucony," she says with a laugh.

The company continues to endorse her, she says, because she's such a goodwill ambassador, bringing new runners into the sport.

Since Dellinger is almost always running a marathon, she doesn't have to do much in the way of training. She's on the treadmill by 4:30 most mornings for a short run before starting a 10-hour workday. And then, since she has Fridays off, she usually goes out for a longer run (often with Greene) that day.

Dellinger's mom died 20 years ago of cancer, so she never got to see her daughter cross the finish line of a marathon.

"My mom would just be so proud," she says.

And her dad died five years ago of heart disease.

"He didn't lead a very healthy life," she says.

So, when the miles get long and Dellinger gets tired, she thinks of her parents or looks down at her yellow Livestrong bracelet and remembers why she keeps on going:

"I do it because I can," she says.

She realizes not everyone can or would want to run marathons like she does. But she does encourage everyone to find an activity they enjoy.

"Just get out and move," she says. "Get up off the couch and walk a half-hour a day."

Dellinger doesn't want people to think that once she finishes her 200th marathon she's going to take a break or hang up her running shoes.

She's registered for the Mayor's Marathon in Anchorage.

It will be her 201st.

And it's only 25 days away.

Girls track and field

Front row from left: Amber Parker-Risk, Cheney; Brynn DeLong, Shadle Park; Morgan Guske, Shadle Park; Alyssa Wold, West Valley; Renee Before, Shadle Park; Anna Walters, North Central; Brianne Brown, Shadle Park. Middle row from left: Eleaya Schuerch, East Valley; Katie Hawkins, University; Andrea Silver, Mead; Aly Spear, Ferris; Amanda Dahlstrom, Mead; Jordan Carlson, Shadle Park; Nikki Codd, Mead; Katie Green, Mead. Back row from left: Assistant Coach of the Year Bob Barbero, Mt. Spokane; Megan O'Reilly, Mt. Spokane; Lindsay Niemeier, Shadle Park; Kelly McNamee, Ferris; Taylor Cook, Mead; Erica Chaney, Gonzaga Prep; Ashley Hutchinson, Mead; Anna Banks, Mt. Spokane; Coach of the Year Dori Robertson, Mead. Not pictured, Corrina O'Brien, G-Prep. (Holly Pickett/The Spokesman-Review)

Event Name, School Year
100 Corrina O'Brien, Gonzaga Prep Sr.
200 Jordan Carlson, Shadle Park So.
400 Anna Walters, North Central Sr.
800 Nikki Codd, Mead Jr.
1,600 Megan O'Reilly, Mt. Spokane Sr.
3,200 Megan O'Reilly, Mt. Spokane Sr.
100h Brynn DeLong, Shadle Park Jr.
300h Aly Spear, Ferris Sr.
400r Katie Green, Mead So.
400r Taylor Cook, Mead Jr.
400r Andrea Silver, Mead So.
400r Amanda Dahlstrom, Mead So.
800r Brynn DeLong, Shadle Park Jr.
800r Morgan Guske, Shadle Park Jr.
800r Brianne Brown, Shadle Park So.
800r Jordan Carlson, Shadle Park So.
1,600r Renee Before, Shadle Park Sr.
1,600r Lindsay Niemeier, Shadle Park Fr.
1,600r Morgan Guske, Shadle Park Jr.
1,600r Brianne Brown, Shadle Park So.
Shot Ashley Hutchinson, Mead Jr.
Discus Erica Chaney, Gonzaga Prep Sr.
Javelin Anna Banks, Mt. Spokane Jr.
LJ Eleaya Schuerch, East Valley Jr.
TJ Eleaya Schuerch, East Valley Jr.
HJ Kelly McNamee, Ferris So.
HJ Alyssa Wold, West Valley Fr.
Vault Katie Hawkins, University Sr.
Vault Amber Parker-Risk, Cheney Sr.

Coach of the Year: Dori Robertson, Mead.

Assistant Coach of the Year: Bob Barbero, Mt. Spokane.

Second Team: Amanda Dahlstrom, 100m, So., Mead; Eleanor Siler, 200m/400m/800r, So., Lewis and Clark; Anna Layman, 800m, Sr., Central Valley; Ryan Torpie, 1600m, Sr., Mead; Becky Mackelprang, 3200m, Sr., Ferris; Kelly McNamee, 100h/1600r, So., Ferris; Renee Before, 300h/400r, Sr., Shadle Park; Amy Before, 400r, Fr., Shadle Park; Brynn DeLong, 400r, Jr., Shadle Park; Jordan Carlson, 400r, So., Shadle Park; Hailee Stocker, 800r, Fr., Lewis and Clark; Ren Mallory, 800r, Sr., Lewis and Clark; Brittany Kennedy, 800r/LJ, So., Lewis and Clark; Kelsey Adams, 1600r, So., Ferris; Amber Quann, 1600r, So., Ferris; Aly Spear, 1600r, Sr., Ferris; Erica Chaney, Shot, Sr., Gonzaga Prep; Ashlee Michelson, Discus, Sr., North Central; Liz Boyden, Javelin, So., Ferris; Mackenzie Lauber, LJ, Jr., Cheney; Katie Green, TJ, So., Mead.

Three's A Charm, but 200?
Imagine running 200 marathons in 19 years.... Forty-three year old Carol Dellinger is doing just that. She will travel from Spokane, Washington in June to run her third consecutive Rock n' Roll Marathon, marking it her monumental 200th marathon.

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