IT’S TOO LATE TO REGISTER FOR 2018. HOWEVER, LEARNING ABOUT THIS ICONIC event might inspire some to investigate the possibility of running in the future. Or to organize a similar custom run in a local park or nature area.
The Dipsea Race is held in Mill Valley California, and follows a historic but treacherous trail through Muir Woods, Mount Tamalpais State Park, and the Golden Gate Recreational Area. The start is marked in downtown Mill Valley and the finish line is at Stinson Beach which borders the Pacific Ocean.
The Dipsea.org website says the 7.4-mile race begins “with a sprint down Throckmorton to the Old Mill Park, then up three flights of stairs as tall as a fifty-story building, and up some more through an old horse ranch to Windy Gap.” Some of the other landmark features of the course include rugged trails named “Dynamite” and “Cardiac”, a steep climb called “Insult Hill”, and a downhill segment through the “Swoop” into “Steep Ravine.”
Registration is held at 1,500 participants “because of safety and environmental concerns.”
Okay it’s easy to get the point that the course could be tough to maneuver. But insiders also know that a competitive edge is given to experienced veterans; they can legally take secret short cuts in the last mile. The sponsoring organization admits that although “racers enter from all over the world, the Dipsea is primarily a Northern California event and the entry process is tilted slightly to favor local contestants.”
This last piece of information is one reason why this event is being highlighted by this Earned Runs post; the race favors the locals! There are innumerable races in this country that seek to boost participant numbers and draw names made famous from wins in high-profile contests. International elite fields are assembled and represent the ‘privileged’ in most of these situations. They are provided with special starts, bibs, prizes, and possibly accommodations. The opposite seems to be true at the Dipsea, in which hometown and homegrown runners can star.
The second reason for being highlighted is Dipsea’s ‘headstart’ system. “So that people of all ages can compete in this race on a more or less equitable basis some runners are allowed to begin the race before others.” The number of minutes is pre-determined by age and gender, set by an official handicapper, “Birdman”, and reviewed each year by the committee.
“Typically”, the Headstarts page states, “at least eight of the top ten finishers have been from different handicap groups”. In 2017, three runners (2 women, 1 man) “established new single age records”.
According the event organization home page, “the Dipsea is the oldest trail race in America”; it was first run on November 19, 1905, won by a high schooler from Oakland. The idea for the race had originated the year before, out of a casual challenge among several members of the San Francisco Olympic Club. They had taken the ferry to Sausalito from S. F., then the train to the Mill Valley depot, and made wagers as to who would reach the destination, Dipsea Inn, first. Thrilled by the experience, the friends decided to make it an annual event. Since 1983 it has been scheduled on the second Sunday in June.
Check out the full website for more details on how to enter, and for a look back in time, when running was a form of entertainment for athletically minded individuals. Women ran their version of Diipsea, separately from the men in 1918-1922 (related to World War I issues?), and from 1950, and then officially in 1971 (historical information from the dipsea.org).
Custom designed events are not new. Earned Runs encourages athletically-minded individuals in present time to consider starting a tradition that could continue for more than 100 years, like The Dipsea Race.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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