2010 Double Dipsea – No Run In The Park


All those training runs with the good-natured and fun-loving Tamalpa runners were building up to the keystone race for me this year – the Double Dipsea.

To say that I survived it, would be merely brushing the surface of the experience – it was glorious and yet ferociously strenuous. A runner that kept me company on the final mile or so put it best, “It builds character man!!” Yes, it does 🙂

Waking up that morning, far too early actually, I could see that a cool day on The Mountain was going to be a life saver. Thinking back to 2003, when I first ran this arduous race, the weather was sunny and hot after the first mile. The aid stations were like watering holes, respites from the battering heat. The volunteers wouldn’t even need to ask, they’d just douse you with cupfuls of water.

Driving out Panoramic, I felt an eerie calm inside. But, pulling into the Stinson Beach parking lot and seeing hundreds of die-hard athletes all gathered for this revered event got the butterflies stirred up inside.

I found my friend and training partner, Tony and his girlfriend Hanna. All was going according to plan.

Then, as the older men and women started off in wave after wave, I began my warm up. That’s when it hit me – what the #$@! am I doing here?? I focused on calming the mind. Go slow, go slow going out. It was time….

My group was called and off we went! I felt like I just kept climbing for an hour, past the stiles, up Steep Ravine and I recognize a friend from high school track. Hey Denise! Finally getting to the Swoop I could open my stride. And after Cardiac I could feel the adrenaline, the excitement.

The Stairs! Going down is one thing. But that turn around was where my running turned to a stumbling shuffle. At Dynamite I tried walk-running only to get hit by Hogsback and Cardiac. That’s when I slurped down the last of my GU and celebrated at the last aid station by stopping and eating and drinking as much as i could. This would turn out to the my best decision of the race. I was dizzy with my glycogen levels low and needed some quick energy.

The downhill at last, with the cool mist of the morning still blowing in from the ocean. Now, I could bear the pain. The end was near.

Pushing through Insult I crested the top to see a group of guys within reach. I could catch them if I dug deep. Did I have it?

The pack pulled away with one runner in my sights. I gained on him just before the end and made the pass as the final 100 meters to the finish line.

Finishing a race was never so sweet. A blessing to have no more hills. Now, to rest and reflect on this 13.8 mile journey in my delirium.

I look forward racing it next year. I plan to train more, train harder and above all train more on those damn hills!

Double Dipsea


My favorite race, without a doubt, is the Double Dipsea organized by the Dolphin South End Running Club, San Franciscan icon Walt Stack. Taking its name from the Dipsea, it is an extremely challenging 7.4 mile cross-country course started in 1905. Whereas, with the traditional Dipsea you start the race in downtown Mill Valley, California; in the Double Dipsea you begin and end in Stinson Beach and run over and back for a total of 14.8 miles with an elevation gain\loss of about 4,000 feet.

Beautiful, scenic and very strenuous, this race attracts the true aficionados of the sport who are have a singular camaraderie and support one another all during the race.

I’m now training for my second race since 2003. I’m reminded of the song by Little Feat, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now. 😉

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