P.E.I. Ultraman athlete is in select company
Paul Dalton, third from right, celebrates with his support crew seconds after finishing the Ultraman world championship in Hawaii on Nov. 28.
And why shouldn't he?
Compared to what he was doing just a week earlier, that's a leisurely jog.
Upon crossing the finish line of the Ultraman world championship triathlon in Hawaii on Nov. 28, Dalton became one of only 495 athletes in the world to complete the demanding race in the event's 26-year history. He is also one of only 39 athletes from around the world to complete both the Ultraman Canada race and the Hawaiian race, and one of only a handful to complete both Ultraman races in the same year.
"More people have climbed Mount Everest than have run an Ultraman," said Dalton, admittedly proud of his accomplishment.
Despite getting caught in a current that left him churning in place for a while near the end of his 10-kilometre swim, Dalton, 52, said he was really satisfied with his swim time.
If not for his good swim, he said, he might not have had been able to complete Day 1 of the three-day race within the 12-hour cutoff. One participant, Dalton said, made the cutoff with just one second to spare.
The start of the bike race was so steep - 1,000 feet in three miles - that some bikers walked sections of it. It was a more gradual climb the rest of the way, but gale-force crosswinds kept things difficult and made biking dangerous.
"It took everything to keep from going over the edge or into traffic," Dalton said.
On a long descent, he found himself fighting against the bike all the way.
"More people have climbed Mount Everest than have run an Ultraman." - Paul Dalton
"You couldn't go over 40 kilometres (per hour)," he said, noting there was strong headwind and sharp corners.
His times were three hours 39 minutes 57 seconds (3:39:57) for the swim, and 7:56:41 for the bike. He made the cutoff with 23:32 to spare.
"It was just a hard day," assessed Dalton, adding he was still tired from that race heading into Day 2 of the competition and another 276-kilometre bike ride. At the end of it, Dalton needed help getting off his bike.
After two difficult days of biking, Dalton wasn't sure how he'd do in the double marathon run on Day 3, and surprised himself with a strong finish.
"I had a really good run," he acknowledged.
He was pleased to have his support crew cross the finish line with him, pointing out he would not have been able to do the race without their support and guidance.
Now back home and back to driving his school bus, Dalton said he will soon get back to serious training for next year's Boston Marathon and the Ironman Canada race. He wants to do another Ultraman race, but that will depend on resources. "Keep doing what I'm doing and focus more on the bike section," he said describing his game plan.