Michael Christy has always wanted to run the Dipsea. Even while laying in a hospital bed for seven weeks, the thought of trekking up Mt. Tam, like he had so many times before, never seemed unattainable. After losing consciousness due to a bizarre food poisoning incident, Christy vividly remembers a dark place, then a light. He said a voice came to him – not God but his own conscious – and gave him a choice: "This is it, Mike. Do you want to live or die?" "No way," he said reflecting on the event that nearly cost him his life. "I'm gonna live." Once told by a doctor he would never be able to run again, Christy will be amongst the 1,500 Dipsea runners making the 7.4 mile trek from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach on June 9. While he recalls an early childhood memory of seeing many of the race's runners and his mother exclaiming, "Look at the legs on that guy," Sunday's race will be his first to run. Long before his hospital stint, participating in the Dipsea was an idea that ran around his mind. Christy had started pushing himself to do longer runs, setting his first goal of reaching the top of Mt. Tam. Once he accomplished that, in June 2010 Christy unintentionally completed the Double Dipsea after running the trail, getting to the beach, and realizing he had no other way home. Years later, determined to get back into physical shape and with no set training schedule, he pushed himself every day - something doctors told him wasn't possible. "Okay," he remembers thinking to himself, "[they] don't know me." On the one-year anniversary of entering the hospital, Christy ran without stopping to the top of Mt. Tam. He touched the tower, looked over Marin and the city, raised his hands like Rocky and cried. Never give up. It's a motto Christy holds to this day. Now when he runs, and if he struggles and wants to stop, he reflects about being in the hospital and the first time he got out of his wheelchair. He could only take about two steps before sitting back in the wheelchair and going to bed. About two months later, he was able to go up and down two stairs before going back to his hospital room. Last Saturday, he ran the Dipsea stairs ten times – 6,720 steps. "Not a day goes by when I don't think about how lucky I am," Christy said. He was diagnosed with botulism, a rare type of food poisoning that most die from. Christy consumed home-canned tuna that his brother, a commercial fisherman, had brought over. A couple of lids hadn't sealed completely, but he figured it was fine since the tuna was cooked. The day after he ate it, he felt a tingling in his chest during a run to Mt. Tam. The next morning, he woke up, tried to call his dog but his speech slurred. He dialed 9-1-1 and soon was in an ambulance off to the hospital. As he lay in a hospital bed, Christy's brain functioned normally, but his only way to communicate became moving his foot either up and down for "yes" and side-to-side for "no" or tracing letters from his right hand index finger. The Redwood High School graduate, who has been a boxer since he was 16-years-old, acknowledges this was "by far my toughest fight." "I had to accept the situation that I was in and not fight it," Christy said. "And I just had to have some hope that I was gonna get better, eventually." Christy's next step will be crossing the finish line, although it's more than that. He knows he can do that. "I think if I don't walk, and I don't hurt myself, and I cross the finish line, it will kind of be a victory," Christy said. "But I want to get into the invitational. I want to do well."
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