This coming sunday (June 11th) is the 96th running of the Dipsea Race.

The race which starts in Mill Valley on the Eastern side of Mount Tamalpais then climbs over the should of Mt Tam to finish at Stinson beach is the oldest cross country foot race in the US (Boston has the oldest marathon in the US – but it’s not cross country). The Dipsea is full of great stories as you’d expect from an event that has been going on for a 100 years (they’ve not run the race a handful of times). Standout stories of course include Jack Kirk who ran the race until he was 96 years old (for a total of 68 times).

How can that be ? Well the Dipsea has handicapping system and gives headstarts to competitors based on age (I think the youngest competitor has been around 10-12). Young and old are given a handicap time, past winners however also have time subtracted. The final race finish order is decided on the basis of line honours (though congratulations are also given to standout race times). The top 35 finishers each year are also given a coveted black shirt with their finish number in white. The handicap system seems to work quite well – but it’s striking the number of over 50 runners who finish in the top 10. A top candidate to win is Melody Schultz who is over 60 this year – the handicap system does help her, but there’s no denying that she’s just plain fast !

I’m proud to say that my friend Jamie Berns has finished in the top 35 (top 10 last year) a number of times and stands a good chance of doing it again this weekend – and I wish her the best for this years race.

Another interesting part of the Dipsea race is that the route is a little ‘loose’, the rules do not presibe a particular route but they do require that people stay ‘on the trails’. In some cases for the experienced (or bold) the trails can be shorter but much steeper straight down the hill.

Check back with the Dipsea pages and also the Marin IJ Dipsea pages next week for the race results.

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on June 7, 2006

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