Interview with Chelsea Dunton, Boston Marathon Runner

Chelsea Dunton

Chelsea Dunton has been an attorney with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review since September 2015. Dunton’s practice is focused on disability decisions at appeals hearings. Prior to working for the SSA, Dunton worked for a private firm primarily in the areas of construction, employment, and general business litigation. Dunton is also a board member for the Women’s Section of the Contra Costa Bar Association, and a co-chair of the Conference of California Bar Associations.

I knew Dunton had participated in marathons, and when I learned that the August issue of the Contra Costa Lawyer would be about Attorney Athletes, I instantly wanted to interview Dunton. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Dunton about her running events, and I am happy to share them with you in this article.

Christina Weed (CW): How long have you been running?
Chelsea Dunton (CD): I’ve been running since high school when I did track. I also ran during college and law school mainly to stay fit, but it wasn’t until just a couple of years ago that I got into racing. My boyfriend was running a half marathon with his mom, and I thought I could never run that far; that’s crazy! My boyfriend and his mom seemed to have a blast participating in the half marathon, however, so the next year, when they signed up again, I signed up too. I was hooked after finishing my first race, so I have continued to participate in races.

CW: How many marathons have you run?
CD: Eight.

CW: Which marathons have you participated in?
CD: The first one I did was in Fremont; it was called the Western Pacific Marathon. I then ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon. I ran in Santa Rosa and the California International Marathon in Sacramento. I ran another in Denver, which was my second favorite race so far, because you start at the top of the Rockies approximately 10,500 feet up. My favorite race is of course the Boston marathon, and I plan to run it again next year. I also ran Mountains to Beach in Ventura and the Oakland Running Festival.

CW: You mentioned that the marathon in Denver started at the top of the Rockies. Did you have to do any special training for that?
CD: I had my mom drive me up to the top of Mount Diablo, and I ran down that twice. There was not really any additional special preparation I did. I believe it helped me to be able to run downhill in Denver because I cut about 4.5 minutes off my fastest time, which gave me a qualifying time that allowed me to register early for the Boston Marathon.

CW: Oh, I didn’t realize you had to qualify. What are the requirements?
CD: For my age group, women up to age 35, you have to run a marathon in 3 hours and 35 minutes to apply for entry to the race. They take the fastest qualifying times until the race is full. So, people who bettered their qualifying time by more than 5 minutes, were able to register first, before they open it up to everyone else who completed a marathon within their qualifying time. For 2017, qualifiers had to be at least 2 minutes and 9 seconds faster than their qualifying time to be accepted into the race.

CW: How many people do they let participate in the Boston Marathon?
CD: There are about 30,000 people who run. Of that pool, approximately 4,000 run because they have fundraised a minimum of $5,000 for an approved charity. Everyone else has to qualify based on their prior running time.

CW: What made the Boston Marathon so memorable? Why was it your favorite?
CD: The city is so welcoming in the days leading up to the marathon. It is awesome! There are decorations everywhere. Runners wear their celebration jackets around all weekend, and the locals all wish you good luck. You get to meet different people from all over the world and hear their stories about their journeys to qualify for the marathon. The race itself is every bit as magical as it’s made out to be. There is such history surrounding the event, and qualifying is a significant achievement. The actual day of the marathon is Patriot’s Day in Boston, so many people have the day off. It’s a big holiday, and the entire route is lined with people cheering you on. Everyone tries to give you a high five. It is a little overwhelming, but it is exciting. Also, the caliber of runners who participate in the event is impressive. Everyone is a good runner.

CW: You stated you are going to participate in the Boston Marathon again next year, right?
CD: Yes, I qualified again by running a 3:29 at the Mountains to Beach Marathon in Ventura on May 28, 2017. The next Boston Marathon is in April 2018.

CW: Do you train for your races on your own?
CD: I typically train by myself. I want to join a running group eventually.

CW: What does your training schedule look like?
CD: I have a printout schedule leading up to each race that I follow, and I track my progress weekly. I’m really good about not skipping runs. I run about 35 to 45 miles per week on average. I try to cross train at least one day a week.

CW: Is it difficult to balance your training schedule with work?
CD: At times, especially at my prior job when I had to commute. It is better now that I do not have to commute as much.

CW: Since you started running marathons, do you feel like you have become more efficient with your work?
CD: Yes, I feel more efficient. I know I am working towards an ultimate goal, and I am good about setting in place the steps I need to accomplish the goal.

CW: Are there any races you would like to do in the future?
CD: Yes, I hope to run the Chicago Marathon. I also want to run the New York Marathon; I have heard the crowd is very exciting, similar to Boston.

CW: Thank you, Chelsea, for taking the time to let me interview you. I am interested to learn about your future races and accomplishments. I wish you the best of luck.
CD: Thank you for interviewing me!