I’ve been lucky enough to be a spectator at two of the oldest running races in U.S.: the Boston Marathon (2nd oldest road race) and the Dipsea Race (oldest trail race). You’ve heard of the Boston Marathon but have you heard of the Dipsea?
The Dipsea Race was started in 1905 when a group of runners decided to run the trail from Mill Valley, California, over Mount Tamalpais, to Stinson Beach. That year, 100 people ran it. Now only 1500 people are lucky enough to run the steep and treacherous 7.4-mile race every year.
As a child, we would wave good-bye to my dad at the start of the race then drive 10 plus miles along the windy roads, through the fog, hoping to reach the finish before he did. It was a tough balance – driving fast enough but not too fast or we would get car sick. Then we’d park and run to watch him finish.
We’d watch Dad and the other runners straggle in, bloody and muddy, many getting sick just before or after they finished. I heard stories of those never ending steps (676 steps and as high as a 50 story building), runners coming up fast from behind, slipping on the mud, and taking short cuts. There was no doubt that the race was a grueling one.
My dad no longer runs the race, but my brother does and so does my sister-in-law. They’ve run the single Dipsea, the Double Dipsea, and even the Quadruple Dipsea. An old friend of my dad’s will run it this year for the 45th year in a row. Due to various running injuries, I’d given up the idea of ever running it myself. But a few years ago, on a crisp December day, I ran the course. Not from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach but from Stinson Beach to Mill Valley. I didn’t run the race, but I did run the course. I ran down the steps instead of up them.
For more information on the race, read the website above or check out this article. http://www.runnersworld.com/trail-running-training/tough-love?page=single