by Kelsey Bollinger
If you've never heard of the historic Dipsea race, it has some impressive stats. It's a 105 year old trail run in Marin County, California beginning in Mill Valley and ending at Stinson Beach. The Dipsea is the second oldest footrace in America and the oldest trail race. It's remarkable for the challenging and sometimes treacherous 7.4 mile course, 672 stair start and impossible entry process. Only 1,500 people each year get the honor of climbing peaks appropriately named "The Hogsback," "Cardiac" and "Insult Hill."
The Dipsea Trail Elevation Profile
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this event is it's complex handicapping system which allows men, women and runners of all ages to have a fair chance at first place. The first heat to leave the start line at 8:30 am is composed of men over 75, women over 66, boys under 6 and girls under 8. The following heat is composed of slightly younger adults and older kids and so forth. The final heat leaves the start line 25 minutes after the first at 8:55 am to take on the task of picking off runners in every other heat ahead of them.
Yesterday, on the Centennial Anniversary of the Dipsea, 8-year-old Reilly Johnson became the youngest winner in the race's history. She crossed the finish line only seconds ahead of Melody Ann Shultz, a 68-year-old grandmother of four.
Where else can you see an event finish like this? The Dipsea's unique spin on competition will continue to show us that winners come in all varieties.