The Double Dipsea.
The first Dipsea happened in 1905, and ever since the race has been a permanent fixture in the Bay Area. The original race begins in Mill Valley and follows the Dipsea Trail over Mt Tamalpais to Stinson Beach. The Double Dipsea was born later and begins by the sandy shores of Stinson Beach. For me it was a lot more appealing, both because of the distance (around 14 instead of 7) and the easier logistics of ending where you started. It just happened to be a bonus that it’s vastly easier to sign up for, since most of the hype and history surrounds the regular Dipsea two weeks earlier. Add in a few awesome, down to earth Loopsters and the deal got even sweeter!
The only downside is that it fell on the same day as the Western States Endurance Run, so we ended up not being able to return this year to help out.
DW and I made the drive down to Stinson and met up with John and Brad before the race. The Loop is a pretty special thing because, even though we haven’t seen either in months, it immediately felt like meeting up with friends we see all the time. That feeling is even more prevalent now that a ton of Loopdwellers are on Facebook as well. In many ways I have more contact with you guys than my local friends!
Anyway, on to the race!
It was fantastic. Since we all started with the “scratch” group, it was a little hard to resist being pulled along with the pace of the all-out racers to begin with, but DW and I have quite a bit of practice at pacing, which is probably the most crucial skill in our recent trail escapades. Fortunately, although John and Brad tend to run a bit faster and stop at aid stations, Laura and I tend to keep a slower steady pace and float through stations, so whenever we got separated we synced up again soon at the next station!
The course was absolutely breathtaking. The first part wound through Muir Woods and opened up onto some higher exposed mountainside. After snaking our way through some more trail and a little road, we eventually got to descend down the 676 steps into Mill Valley. I found this to be especially cool, since it winds through a hippie neighborhood with gardens and sculptures.
Then we got to turn around and climb those same steps again, retracing our route right back to the beach.
Each step is dedicated to someone, and we had no idea until we turned around to climb them!
One way the course has 2319’ of elevation gain, so the double has 4638’ flavoring its 13.7 miles. That’s a lot of climbing. I’m used to races with a fair amount of gain, but this one sure packed a lot into a pikermi(ish) distance. By the last climb my hamstrings were threatening to cramp, so I let DW go ahead and stretched them out for a minute, then caught up on the downhill. We took a couple of “detours” but met up with the main trail again in no time.
Note: In Dipsea races, it’s totally fine to take shortcuts. Or longcuts. Or whatever you want. Mt Tamalpais has so many trails interweaving over its surface that the flags are there mainly to keep people from getting lost, not to signify a strict course. The start and end are set, anything goes in between.
For a good feeling of what the race is, check out the 70’s Bruce Dern movie On The Edge. It’s a little hard to come by, but I contacted the director in Berkeley and he sent me a copy. You can also get ahold of it through ebay and sites like that. One of my favorite movies.
Anyway, the course had taken its toll, and by the time Laura and I hit the pavement for the last stretch to the finish line my calves had had enough. They cramped, and they cramped hard. I didn’t want to stop with the finish in sight so I just kept going. Both legs were in full on cramp mode as we kicked it in for the last 200’ or so! The body will pretty much do whatever the mind tells it to.
We met up with the studly runners who’d finished about ten minutes earlier and reveled in how awesome the course had been.
I think I’m smitten with this trail. It has everything from rocky rooty technical downhill to rainforest like lush foliage.
After cooling down a bit we grabbed some brews and headed over the hill to the sandy beach! The pacific ocean provides a hell of an ice bath, and a cold beer can only help.
We all headed over to a great little local café in Sausalito for breakfast and visited like a bunch of old friends before saying our goodbyes (for now).
I had a lot of fun Saturday morning tackling a stupendous course with some great friends, an experience I will not soon forget!
Unfortunately I’ve been down with the flu for a couple days, but I’m hopeful that I’ll kick it in time for our race this weekend. It includes another trip over Mt Tam!
Run happy and healthy, my friends!