Barry Spitz

Friday, May 6, 2016

by Barry Spitz

Jerry Hauke, the towering figure of the Dipsea Race over the past half-century who died last week at age 80, seemed cast from a Shakespearean tragedy. A  large man with a regal bearing and a prodigious zest for life, food and drink, he could have been any number of the Bard’s kings. He fought his foes—and there were many trying to diminish the Dipsea and even kill it—not with arrows but with the steadfast force of what he believed right. And certainly there was tragedy; he buried three of his six children, and his wife.
Jerome Hauke grew up in Milwaukee, and ran track at Pulaski High School there. At the University of Wisconsin, where he studied civil engineering and was on the boxing team, he met future wife Mary. In 1958, they moved to Mill Valley, where all the children attended local schools.
Jerry worked for CalTrans, and was its chief local engineer during the massive repairs and cleanup on the Bay Bridge and Eastshore Freeway following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. He was active in Mill Valley’s civic affairs. Indeed, his work in turning a marsh into a grass field while on the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission was rewarded by the naming of Hauke Park.
After the 1962 Dipsea, which had just 61 finishers, the San Francisco-based South of Market Boys withdrew as organizer and the venerable race (founded in 1905) was in danger of demise. Jerry was a member of the Mill Valley Junior Chamber of Commerce, which decided to take over the race. Dick Sloan was chair the first year, then Hauke, in an era before a formal Dipsea Committee, ran it the next 33 years. (He was also on the board of the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival and added the popular Dipsea Beer Booth to the event.)
“I am proud to have been a friend and colleague of Jerry’s through our work on the Dipsea Race,” says Jim Weil, one of Hauke’s first helpers from the 1960s. “Jerry did not nibble around the edges of life. He jumped right into the middle of his many civic and outdoor activities, and California is a better place for it.” 
Hauke’s tenure coincided with the national running boom and the Dipsea Race surged in popularity. This led to many, seemingly endless land use conflicts, but Hauke was always up to the task.
In 1966, a home was built at 315 Panoramic Highway directly on the Dipsea Race route. After years of battles—the homeowner erected fences and used dogs and guards to keep runners out, but they crossed anyhow—Hauke got a new section of trail built through adjacent State Park land, a stretch forever known as Hauke Hollow.
In 1976, more than 2,000 racers dangerously jammed the trail, also causing a monstrous backup in Stinson Beach that left hundred of finishers unrecorded and many locals, particular the town’s fire chief, fuming. In response, the County Board of Supervisors (which included Barbara Boxer) voted to kill the race by denying a permit for 1977.
Hauke, a master at gathering influential political allies and a fighter for his beloved Dipsea, responded. He moved the race from late August, the high fire season, to early June. He agreed to a cap on entries (1,500) and split the race into two sections (actually three, but the third group was never needed). And he had racers exit the Dipsea Trail onto Highway 1 (over the infamous stile) instead of Panoramic Highway, to keep the latter clear for emergency vehicles.
It was Hauke who saved, over land manager’s opposition, the shortcuts known as Suicide and the Swoop. He secured an easement from landowner George Leonard that forever preserved the shortcuts over the final mile. And it was Hauke who completed the job of making the entire Dipsea Race route permanently open to the public. Hauke also raced the Dipsea some 15 times—he was a strong downhiller--including in one hour, 15 minutes in 1969.
And there were financial woes, almost sinking the race in the 1980s. The Dipsea Foundation, which Hauke helped create, has now put the race on a solid footing.
In 2000, Jerry’s son Jeff Hauke, a runner and Dipsea Committee member, died of a heart attack. Heartbroken, Jerry immediately stepped down as head of the Dipsea, though he remained a director and its most trusted advisor and valuable resource. In 1994, he was elected as the sixth member of the Dipsea Race Hall of Fame. The race awards a Jerry Hauke “Red Tailed Hawk” trophy for “Leadership, Dedication and Sportsmanship.”
“Jerry was a legend, a champion for the race and a savior for it,” says Dipsea Committee member Dave Albee, who long covered the event for this newspaper. “His dedication and fighting spirit kept the race alive and his giving soul and generosity runs through all the race volunteers to this day.”
Hauke retired with his partner Jean Weese to a ranch in Douglas City (Trinity County), where he continued his love for the outdoors. In 2012, he was named the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts’ “Volunteer of the Year.”   

Jerry was a hero of mine, and a long-time friend. Perhaps my fondest Dipsea memory was a summer evening with him in 1993, when we trudged to the top of Cardiac Hill to determine whether it, or nearby Lone Tree, was actually the course’s highest point. Hauke, who knew surveying, measured while I was “rod man,” holding the pole. As the sun set, he pronounced that Cardiac was five inches higher than Lone Tree. I believe the Dipsea Race would no longer exist were it not for Jerry. He died on the same date, April 14, as his son Jeff.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

105th Dipsea
June 14, 2015

Brian Pilcher comfortably won a second title, runner-up Matias Saari showed he is to be reckoned with in the future, and Rickey Gates snapped Alex Varner’s epochal streak of six successive Best Time trophies to highlight the 105th Dipsea Race.
Since his Dipsea win in 2009, Pilcher’s running career had highs and lows. He had to sit out the 2010 Dipsea with an injury, keeping fit riding an Elliptigo, a mobile elliptical bicycle in which he became an investor. In 2014, after hesitating whether to enter at all due to injury, he finished 22nd. But in 2013, Pilcher was named USA Track & Field’s Runner of the Year (age 55-59). He also finished places 3-5-3 in the Dipsea races of 2011-13. 
Pilcher again entered late, a privilege granted past champions, and was then immediately recognized as a favorite. When he passed, earlier than expected, two-time defending champion Diana Fitzpatrick—she started four minutes before him-- Pilcher too thought a second win was possible. Only Hans Schmid, the 75-year-old champion from 2012, remained ahead. Pilcher passed Schmid at Cardiac, again sooner than expected. “I wondered how far Chris Lundy was behind me,” said Pilcher but otherwise then felt confident of victory. Pilcher’s time of 56:56 meant he comfortably ran “under his age” (58), always a rare and remarkable feat. His winning margin of 1:58 was the largest since 2003.   
“The monkey is off my back. After 2009, I thought I could win every year,” Pilcher told the crowd at the awards ceremony.
Runner-up Matias Saari, 44, from Alaska, had tried, without success, to enter previous Dipsea races. This year, he was not only admitted, but passed directly into Invitational on the strength of three wins in Alaska’s Mt. Marathon Race, which is actually steeper and more treacherous (though shorter) than the Dipsea. Saari justified the Race Committee’s decision. After being passed by Best Time winner Gates, Saari outran Gates down Steep Ravine and on to the finish.
“I ran down out of control,” said Saari in an understatement.
Saari is due to gain a head start minute in 2016, while Pilcher is saddled with a winner’s penalty minute.
The day’s great battle was for the Best Time Trophy. Alex Varner had won the award six years in a row, one of the greatest feats in Dipsea history. No one previously had strung more than three in succession. But Varner competed in the IAU World 100 kilometer championship race in France just 15 days before (May 30). His legs still fatigued, Varner slowed 96 seconds from 2014 and was beaten to the finish line (by three seconds) by his training partner, and fellow scratch starter, Gus Gibbs. (Mark McManus, winner of three Best Time trophies, was one place behind, in 10th.) But swiftest of all was Rickey Gates, who had been runner-up both overall and for the Time trophy in his Dipsea debut in 2014. Starting in the one-minute group, Gates knocked 20 seconds off his 2014 effort, his 49:11 winning the Time prize by 22 seconds and good for third place.
Chris Lundy, fourth, slowed 2:37 from 2013, when she was runner-up overall to Fitzpatrick. Still, her 59:23 won Lundy a record fifth woman’s Best Time award. She had previously been tied with Debbie Rudolf and Peggy Smyth with four trophies. Heath Hibbard, a Coloradan who won the age 60-64 division in the 2015 Boston Marathon, finished fifth in his Invitational debut. Another Colorado runner, Andy Ames, finished sixth. That put four non-Californians in the top six, unprecedented in Dipsea history. 
Brad Bryon, 13th, became the third person to won a 20th black shirt (top 35 finish). He joined Russ Kiernan and Steve Stephens in the exclusive club.
Wyatt Miceli, 14, finishing his freshman year at Sir Francis Drake H.S., where he starred on the mountain biking team, finished 16th and won the High School trophy. He also paired with his brother Johnny Lawson to win the Alan Beardall Family Trophy for a second successive year. Lawson, a past High School trophy winner himself and now running for Cal, had the flu but ran anyhow, finishing 53rd. Quinn Lehmkuhl, 15, who just completed her sophomore year at North Tahoe High, won the girls’ High School trophy. She ran 1:11:07 (10hc), finishing 169th.
Hans Schmid, who led much of the way, at one point by three minutes, ended up 17th. At age 75, he became the oldest black shirt winner ever. Schmid was already the oldest overall winner (72).
George Torgun and Michael Broom, both 37, ended up one second apart for black shirts #34 and #35. But then an unprecedented gap of 41 seconds ensued before Lucas Agricola crossed in the dreaded 36th slot.
It was a tough year for women, with only four finishing among the first 40. The highest placed woman with the minimum handicap of eight minutes was only 98th. 
--The coolest conditions in years led to generally faster times and fewer injuries. Indeed, the sun never shone during the Invitational race, nor did it break through at all through the awards ceremony. There was, however, some mud, particularly approaching Cardiac, from a rare, fairly hard June rain four days earlier.
--Sisters Colleen and Sharon Fox, running and volunteering in more than 60 Dipsea races between them, were presented with the Jack Kirk Award.
--Norman Pease, who has run 34 Dipseas and shared his love for the Race with many others, received the Norman Bright Award.
--Billie Post, who ran the Dipsea for 26 years--often among the last finishers but always cheering others--then became a volunteer, was honored with the Red Tail Hawk Award.
--This writer was inducted into the Dipsea Race Hall of Fame as its 30th member. I founded the Hall of Fame in 1993, when I named the first five charter members (Norman Bright, Judge Timothy Fitzpatrick, Jack Kirk, Emma Reiman and Sal Vasquez) before turning over the selection process to the Dipsea Committee.
--Dipsea Foundation college scholarships were awarded to Isabella Amyx, Frank Gerraty, Adam Harwood, Sarah Seltzer and Meghan Tanel.
--For the first time, the Race was viewable live online. UltraSportsLive, with permission of the Dipsea Committee, streamed the event using cameras at Cardiac and the finish line.
--Just six days later, closer than usual, more than 630 runners ran the Double Dipsea. Gary Gellin had an actual time of 1:55:18 and won by 2:52 over Wayne Best. Lisbet Sunshine, 4th, was first female. The fastest actual times were run by Paddy O’Leary (1:54:31) and Caitlin Fitzpatrick (2:19:40).
--In the 2014 Quadruple Dipsea, Chikara Omine ran 4:12:01 to win by 3:02 over Dave Mackey. Caren Spore, 14th, was top female in a time of 5:00:16.

1. Brian Pilcher (58), Kentfield, 56:56 (11 minute handicap), 1:58 victory margin
2. Matias Saari (44), Anchorage, AK, 50:54 (3hc)
3. Rickey Gates (34), Madison, WI, 49:11 (1hc) fastest time
4. Chris Lundy (44), Sausalito, 59:23 (11hc) fastest woman
5. Heath Hibbard (62), Montrose, CO, 1:02:38 (14hc)
6. Andy Ames (52), Boulder, CO, 55:51 (7hc)
7. Alan Reynolds (51), Sausalito, 55:22 (6hc)
8. Gus Gibbs (29), Ketchum, ID, 49:33 (scratch) second fast time
9. Alex Varner (29), San Rafael, 49:36 (scratch)
10. Mark McManus (41), Mill Valley, 52:10 (2hc)
11. Diana Fitzpatrick (57), Larkspur, 1:05:16 (15hc)
12. Darrin Banks (49), Berkeley, 55:17 (5hc)
13. Bradford Bryon (57), Penngrove, 1:00:31 (10hc)
14. Cliff Lentz (50), Brisbane, 56:57 (6hc)
15. Galen Burrell (35), Mill Valley, 52:01 (1hc)
16. Wyatt Miceli (14), Forest Knolls, 56:17 (5hc) first high school
17. Hans Schmid (75), Greenbrae, 1:15:20 (24hc)
18. Ryan Matz (28), Ellensburg, WA, 51:38 (scratch)
19. John Litzenberg III, Glen Ellen, 55:45 (4hc)
20. Jerry Edelbrock, Corte Madera, 1:08:46 (17hc)
21. Thomas Rosencrantz (49), Mill Valley, 56:49 (5hc)
22. Wayne Best (47), San Rafael, 55:56 (4hc)
23. Sissel Berntsen-Heber (51), Boca Raton, FL, 1:04:57 (13hc)
24. Bob Murphy (62), Spokane, WA, 1:06:16 (14hc)
25. Bradley O’Brien (53), Novato, 59:26 (7hc)
26. Kristen McCarthy (41), Mill Valley, 1:02:29 (10hc) second fastest woman
27. Stephen Donahue (37), San Francisco, 53:37 (1hc)
28. Thomas Taylor (39), Brentwood, 54:43 (2hc)
29. Jared Baririlleaux (30), Petaluma, 52:48 (scratch)
30. Wes Thurman (43), Colorado Springs, 55:54 (3hc)
31. Michael Woolford (57), Jefferson, AR, 1:02:57 (10hc)
32. Roy Kissin (58), San Francisco, 1:04:00 (11hc)
33. John Hudson (52), Mill Valley, 1:00:01 (7hc)
34. George Torgun (37), Berkeley, 54:04 (1hc)
35. Michael Broom (37), San Francisco, 54:05 (1hc)
36. Lucas Agricola (33), Sausalito, 54:46 (1hc)
37. Greg Nacco (55), Larkspur, 1:01:47 (8hc)
38. Preston Sitterly (67), Sonoma, 1:11:54 (18hc)
39. John Lundy (52), Penngrove, 1:01:02 (7hc)
40. Victor Ballesteros (45), San Rafael, 58:05 (4hc)
41. Sid Bagga (17), Orinda, 56:08 (2hc)
42. Alastair Lawrence (36), Oakland, 55:14 (1hc)
43. Patricia Shore (48), Mill Valley, 1:06:20 (12hc)
44. Tim Wallen (51), San Rafael, 1:00:33 (6hc)
45. Jennifer Foster (41), Mill Valley, 1:04:44 (10hc)
46. Edward Breen (33), San Francisco, 55:54 (1hc)
47. Steven Katz (64), Larkspur, 1:10:01 (15hc)
48. Sarah Tabbutt (56), Mill Valley, 1:12:11 (17hc)
49. Chris Knorzer (46), Rocklin, 59:16 (4hc)
50. Mark Helmus (61), Davis, 1:08:24 (13hc)

1,419 finishers; overcast and cool throughout
Team: Pelican Track Club; Saari, Gates, Reynolds, Gibbs, Varner

Friday, August 22, 2014

104th Dipsea Race (2014)

104th Dipsea
June 8, 2014

In the 2013 Dipsea, Diana Nelson Fitzpatrick ran 1:02:42 and won by four seconds over Chris Lundy, nine over Brian Pilcher, 48 over Hans Schmid and 77 ahead of Alex Varner. In 2014, with the same head start of 16 minutes—her winners penalty minute offset by an added minute for turning 56--Fitzpatrick ran 39 seconds slower and still won again, but now by 70 seconds. How could it happen?
            For one, hot weather slowed just about everyone. Lundy dropped out during the 2014 Race with cramps. Pilcher, undecided about running at all—he only registered Race morning (an unwritten prerogative of past winners, handed down in lure)—had an off day and finished 22nd. Schmid did not enter. And Varner, though again winning the Best Time trophy, slowed 70 seconds.
             Fitzpatrick stated her racing focus for 2014 was the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run three weeks later in June, so many wondered if she’d take the risks needed to win the Dipsea. As it turned out, by building a large lead, she did not need to take many.
            Only a few dozen runners started before Fitzpatrick. Three-time champion Melody-Anne Schultz, in the first group away (25 minutes) led early. Jamie Rivers, a two-time winner with a 21-minute handicap, took over on the Hogsback. When  Fitzpatrick passed her, before Cardiac, the Race for first place was essentially over.
            Here’s Fitzpatrick’s account:
I was very relaxed going into it [the Dipsea]. Probably the most relaxed I've ever been. I had been doing a lot of high mileage in the spring getting ready for Western States but less speed work than I usually do. I wasn't sure how that training would turn out for the Dipsea but I was looking forward to racing something short and hilly and hard.
The first half of the race went pretty much like I expected. I got to Cardiac in first place and then it was just a question of if or when someone would come up from behind and pass me. It's really hard to get a sense of how close anyone is although I heard someone yell at me from the road when I was down in one of the shortcuts so I figured there wasn't anyone close yet. But there's still a long ways to go from there to the finish and I was very aware that the fast guys like Ricky G [Gates] and Galen B {Burrell] and Alex V [Varner] would be closing in on me. After I crossed the stile and before turning left on the road I didn't hear cheers for the next runner but again I knew there would still be time for someone to catch me. Then half way down the final stretch to the finish I heard you (Barry Spitz) announce that I was going to win the race. That's when I knew I had it.
Given that I won by only 4 seconds last year I didn't go into the race expecting to win again. But after I got to Cardiac, I figured anything could happen and I focused on running the runnable sections as fast as I could and going for it on the downhills. I actually had a lot of fun running hard and fast from Cardiac to the finish.
            Fitzpatrick then went on to run a brilliant Western States, finishing in 22 hours, 52 minutes.
            Rickey Gates, one of the top open runners in Northern California, led the futile chase group. In 2013, in the notorious Mt. Marathon race in Seward, Alaska, over even more treacherous terrain than the Dipsea, Gates ran under the 32-year-old course record (but finished second). Not fully listing his impressive running credentials on his application, Gates was initially assigned to the Runner section and thus overlooked by Race prognosticators.
            Galen Burrell, winner of the Mt. Tam Hill Climb so clearly a great uphiller, also in his first Dipsea, arrived next, nine seconds behind Gates. There was then high drama. To keep his unprecedented Best Time Trophy streak alive, Varner had to finish within 60 seconds of Gates. He did, 38 seconds back, winning Time honors for a sixth successive year, It is one of the most impressive achievements in Dipsea history. Unselfishly, it was Varner who had encouraged both Gates and Burrell to enter the Dipsea.
            Clara Peterson, seventh, won the women’s time trophy with her 59:05. No other woman ran under 62 minutes. Under her maiden name of Horowitz, Clara was a top high school runner at Head Royce, then a five-time All American at Duke. Though living in Marin for several years, this was her Dipsea debut, following the births of three children.
            John Lawson, the defending High School trophy winner now running at Cal, finished eighth. When his younger brother Wyatt Miceli, second in the Runner Section in 2013, crossed tenth, the Alan Beardall Family Trophy was settled early. Jamie and Roy Rivers, despite both winning black shirts, were runners up.
            In an oddity, Brad Bryon, 19th, won his 19th black shirt, and Greg Nacco, 18th, claimed his 18th. They sprinted in and both were given identical times. Eight seconds earlier, Jamie Rivers, 17th, won her 16th shirt.
            The battle for the Team Trophy was tight, the Pelican Inn Track Club edging perennial champions Tamalpa Runners for a second time in four years. It was so close that had Alan Reynolds (6th place) ran for Tamalpa, as he did in 2013, and not switched to Pelican, the team honors would have been reversed.
--Women won only four black shirts, the lowest since 1982 and ’83, when they also won four. Then six women finished in places 36 through 47. For the first time in 14 years, no one, male or female, over 65 won a shirt. 
--Fourteen black shirt winners, places 12 through 25, finished within 56 seconds.
--Tyler Denniston, 23, won the Runner Section by a massive 2:42 over Brett Rivers. Dennison’s time of 51:31 (scratch) was bettered by only four Invitationals.
--At the Dipsea Foundation Dinner on June 6, college scholarships of $5,000 each were awarded to Bella Levaggi, Madelynn Perry, Mae Puckett and Heather Stickle.
--Joseph Biehl (Desert Christian, Lancaster) and Andrea von Eschen (Lick Wilmerding, San Francisco) where the High School Trophy winners.
--Also at the Dinner, Barbara Robben, was inducted into the Race’s Hall of Fame as its 29th member. On Race day, Robben became the first 80-year-old woman to finish the Dipsea, and she extended her own record for most finishes by a woman (43). Robben’s parents, George and Wilma Leonard, donated an easement to Marin County that today’s racers use over the last mile of trail.
--Eve Pell, winner of the 1989 Dipsea, a Hall of Famer and now breaking the Race’s age records for women in their 70s, won the Norman Bright Trophy. Bob Bunnell, second to Jack Kirk in 1967 and still racing, won the Jack Kirk Trophy. Karl Baeck, heading the volunteer team at Muir Woods for a quarter-century, was awarded the Jerry Hauke Red-Tailed Hawk award.
--On June 21, Alex Varner passed Alan Reynolds over the final 40 yards added at the finish of the DSE Double Dipsea and won by two seconds. Varner ran 1:46:18 (scratch) on a course in which no shortcuts were permitted. Sissel Bernsten-Heber, third, had the fastest women’s time, 2:17:19. For the first time in its 45 years, the Double filled its quota early and no same day entries were permitted. 
--In the 2103 Quadruple Dipsea, Dave Mackey won in 3:48:45, breaking Leor Pantilat’s race record (from 2011) by 13 seconds. Ariane Buser was first woman in 5:06:11.

1. Diana Fitzpatrick (56), Larkspur, 1:03:21 (16 minute hc) [1:10 victory margin]
2. Rickey Gates (33), San Francisco, 49:31 (1hc)  2nd fastest time
3. Galen Burrell (34), Mill Valley, 49:40 (1hc)
4. Alex Varner (28), San Rafael, 49:09 (0)  fastest time
5. Sissel Bernsten-Heber (50), Mill Valley, 1:02:40 (13hc)  2nd fastest woman
6. Alan Reynolds (50), Sausalito, 56:08 (6hc)
7. Clara Peterson (30), Corte Madera, 59:06 (8hc)  fastest woman
8. John Lawson (19), Forest Knolls, 51:08 (0)
9. Jamey Gifford (36), Hillsborough, 52:19 (1hc)
10. Wyatt Miceli (13), Forest Knolls, 57:27 (6hc)
11. Stephen Donahue (36), San Francisco, 52:48 (1hc)
12. Mark Helmus (60), Davis, 1:04:02 (12hc)
13. Mark McManus (40), Mill Valley, 54:06 (2hc)
14. Cliff Lentz (49), Brisbane, 57:08 (5hc)
15. Don Stewart (53), Sebastopol, 59:15 (7hc)
16. Gus Gibbs (28), Ketchum, ID, 52:23 (0)
17. Jamie Rivers (63), Mill Valley, 1:13:25 (21)
18. Greg Nacco (54), Larkspur, 1:00:33 (8hc)
19. Bradford Bryon (56), Penngrove, 1:01:33 (9hc)
20. Thomas Rosencrantz (48), Mill Valley, 57:40 (5hc)
21. Bradley O’Brien (52), Novato, 59:41 (7hc)
22. Brian Pilcher (57), Ross, 1:02:43 (10hc)
23. John Litzenberg III (44), Glen Ellen, 55:55 (3hc)
24. Ryan Matz (27), Chico, 52:57 (0)
25. Chris Knorzer (45), Rocklin, 56:58 (4hc)
26. Thomas Taylor (38), Brentwood, 55:05 (2hc)
27. Darrin Banks (48), Berkeley, 58:12 (5hc)
28. Roy Kissin (57), San Francisco, 1:03:14 (10hc)
29. Jerry Edelbrock (65), Corte Madera, 1:09:22 (16hc)
30. Roy Rivers (57), Mill Valley, 1:03:26 (10hc)
31. Joseph Biehl (14), Juniper Hills, 58:35 (5hc)  1st HS
32. Michael Wolford (56), Jefferson, AR, 1:02:40 (9hc)
33. Andrew Cobourn (20), Minden, NV, 53:42 (0)
34. Victor Ballesteros (44), San Rafael, 56:43 (3hc)
35. Wayne Best (46), San Rafael, 57:45 (4hc)
36. Sarah Slaymaker (43), Mill Valley, 1:03:49 (10hc)
37. Tim Wallen (50), San Rafael, 1:00:06 (6hc)
38. Elizabeth Shortino (50), San Anselmo, 1:07:16 (13hc)
39. Steven Katz (63), Larkspur, 1:09:31 (15hc)
40. Ken Fenyo (48), Portola Valley, 59:50 (5hc)
41. Johnny Rutledge (43), Nicasio, 58:28 (3hc)
42. Patricia Shore (47), Mill Valley, 1:07:35 (12hc)
43. Craig Miller (52), Mill Valley, 1:02:37 (7hc)
44. Stefan Laursen (44), Fairfax, 58:54 (3hc)
45. Sara Gigliotti (40), Colorado Springs, CO, 1:04:59 (9hc)
46. Ashley Sternfels (42), Mill Valley, 1:06:00 (10hc)
47. Stacey Armijo (37), Rocklin, 1:04:05 (8hc)
48. Rob Spinosa (43), Novato, 59:08 (3hc)
49. Preston Sitterly (66), Sonoma, 1:13:15 (17hc)
50. Kevin Walker (50), Moab, UT, 1:02:19 (6hc)
--107. Andrea von Eschen (18), Mill Valley, 1:08:53 (9hc)  1st HS girl

Team: Tamalpa (Fitzpatrick, Bernsten-Heber, Peterson, Lawson, Miceli)
1,417 finishers; sunny and warm, sections hot

Monday, June 2, 2014

1964 Dipsea

by Barry Spitz
(first appeared in the Marin Independent Journal of June 2, 2014

The 1964 Dipsea--fifty years ago—was a watershed, in many ways both the end of the race’s historic era and the start of its modern one. The record high for number of finishers, set in 1920, was shattered by 40 percent and the Dipsea began a period of enormous popularity continuing today. After a long gap, a woman, Donna Thurlby, ran the full race. Women would run every subsequent year and be admitted as official entrants in 1971. The finish line, on Shoreline Highway in central Stinson Beach every year but one since 1907, was moved nearer the beach and has never returned. And an entry fee, 50 cents then, $75 now, was inaugurated. But, most significantly, 1964 marked the last year head starts were individually assigned, leading to what remains the biggest change ever in a race founded in 1905. 
            In the Dipsea’s first five decades, the distance running community was relatively small and tight-knit with only a few major races. So a presumably neutral official could assign, reasonably accurately, a fair head start for each entrant. Thus, every runner, save a handful who knew that even the maximum head start allowed was not enough, felt they had a chance to win, and that their chance was equal to every one else’s.
            Then, in 1963, President Kennedy issued his national fitness challenge and Oregon coach Bill Bowerman (co-founder of Nike) published “A Jogger’s Manual,” igniting the running boom. Entries for the 1964 Dipsea skyrocketed and 169 finished.
            Many of the newcomers were young, without any race record. The handicapper, underestimating the abilities of talented high schoolers unafraid of the treacherous Dipsea Trail, gave many of them oversized head starts. Teenagers swept the top nine places, all in clock times (actual time less head start) under the course record, with Tamalpais High’s Gregg Sparks winning. Bill Morgan, who would win Bay to Breakers the following year in record time, ran the then second fastest Dipsea ever, 47:29, but only got tenth place.
            Veteran Marin teacher and coach Dave Barni, who ran his first Dipsea in 1964 as a San Rafael High junior, says, “I got three head start minutes but Mark Falcone, my high school teammate who always finished one place ahead or behind me at meets, got seven minutes. Gregg Sparks, who went on to the State (track) Meet, got eleven. (Today, by contrast, Sparks, at 17, would get only two minutes.) To this day, I don’t know how or why it happened.”
            Keith Krieger, then a county mile and cross-country champion at Tam, ran the ’64 Dipsea with no head start because he signed up race morning. Entered again this year, Krieger says, “The handicapping was a joke then. It’s so much better now.”   
“The handicap system was always a puzzle to me,” says San Rafael’s Bill Ferlatte. “It was apparently based on your best Dipsea time, best mile time and which way the wind was blowing. One thing that was nearly certain though; if you won or ran one of the fastest times, you could count on starting from scratch the following year.” That happened to Ferlatte, who was second in 1963 and 44th in ’64.
            The need for change was clear. So, in 1965, head starts were assigned solely on age (and, from 1971, on gender). With the new system, no longer did everyone feel that, with a great day, they might win. Now only the very best in their age group had any chance of crossing first and picking the Dipsea winner became easier. Also, the old practice of slashing winners’ head starts meant there were no back-to-back champions ever through 1964. Under the new system, there have been six, and Sal Vasquez won four in a row.
            Jim Weil, the MIT graduate who introduced a rigorous statistical approach when he took over the handicapping job in the 1970s (he still holds it), notes another alteration. “The change in 1965,” he says, “also meant the end of sandbagging, by which good Dipsea runners intentionally ran poorly for a few years, saw their head start minutes rise to reflect their apparent decline, then ran to the best of their abilities in a one-time attempt at winning the race.” 
            Fifty years later, one thing remains constant. Everyone, except the winner, will grumble about the handicapping.   

Monday, July 15, 2013

2013 Dipsea Race

103rd Dipsea
June 9, 2013
(Supplement to "Dipsea, The Greatest Race, Centennial Edition," by Barry Spitz

Seemingly defying the bond between aging and slowing upon which the Dipsea Race’s handicapping curve is built, Diana Fitzpatrick, age 55, ran just two minutes off from when she finished fourth a decade earlier. The result was victory in the 103rd Dipsea, albeit a narrow one.
            Fitzpatrick began jogging while a student at Barnard College in New York City. Despite the commitments of raising two children (Katie, now 20, and Chris, 18) and working as a lawyer, she went on to great success in longer races.  Fitzpatrick had a marathon best of 2:37 and competed in three United States Olympic Marathon trials. She completed three Western States 100 Mile Endurance Runs, twice among the top five women and broke 22 hours at age 52 in 2010. (She now serves on States’ Board of Trustees.) Despite giving priority to Western States, also held in June, Fitzpatrick still amassed seven top-ten Dipsea finishes, rising to a high of third in 2012. For 2013, Fitzpatrick gained a head start minute while neither defending champion Hans Schmid nor runner-up Chris Lundy gained anything. So, for 2013, only Diana’s husband, Tim Fitzpatrick, entered States.
            Fitzpatrick set off with a 16-minute head start.  A strong uphiller, she passed all earlier starters before Cardiac, which she crested in 42:30 but with Schmid still 2:30 ahead. She finally overhauled Schmid on Panoramic Highway just before the first shortcut. It proved a key pass as Chris Lundy and Brian Pilcher, who were gaining and ended up so close, were then unable to get by Schmid on the narrow shortcuts and lost time.
            Fitzpatrick had a 19 second lead over Lundy hitting Highway 1, with Pilcher a few strides behind. When all three initially came into view of the finish line crowd, just before the final turn, the lead was halved and the outcome in doubt. But Fitzpatrick proved a capable sprinter, holding off her speedier pursuers.
“I didn’t know they were so close,” Fitzpatrick said. “But I got passed at the very end in 2002 and 2003 and ever since then, I always run all out to the line.”
            She hit the finish four seconds in front of Lundy with an actual time of 1:02:42. It was the third smallest margin of victory in Dipsea history; the gap was three seconds in 1906 and officially two seconds (but apparently less) in 1948. It was also the closest multiple finish since 1989, when nine seconds also separated the top three.  Fitzpatrick became the 12th woman age 52-64 to win in the past 26 years, although that age group typically comprises only five percent of the field.
            Several runners—Lundy, Pilcher, Schmid, Alex Varner, Johnny Lawson and Melody-Anne Schultz--turned in brilliant performances that might have won another year. Lundy, second for a second year in a row, ran an extraordinary 5:27 faster than any other woman and broke the age-42 record by 3:48. Lundy’s 56:46 yielded a fifth Best Time Trophy, the most ever by a woman, breaking a tie with Debbie Rudolf and Peggy Smyth. Only 24 men ran faster.
            Brian Pilcher, third, “ ran his age,” clocking 55:51 at age 56. He also broke the age-56 record by 2:48. Pilcher had been the pre-Race favorite due to adding two head start minutes, one for his expiring 2009 Winner’s Penalty. He did run 38 seconds faster than in 2012, but needed ten more.
            Hans Schmid came next, running only 19 seconds slower than in his victory a year earlier. Indeed, without his one-minute Winner’s Penalty, he seemingly would have won again. Schmid also destroyed the age-73 Race record by 3:28.
            Fifth placer Alex Varner arrived with his face covered in blood from a fall. But he smiled when he heard his time, 47:59, his fastest Dipsea ever. It was the Race’s first sub-48 since 1995, when the course was shorter. It was also nearly three minutes faster than anyone else. Varner took home his fifth consecutive Best Time trophy, plus the Norman Bright trophy. (On June 29, a punishingly hot day, Varner handily won the Double Dipsea, running 1:42:15, with no head start. Julia Maxwell had the fastest women’s time, 2:04:37, finishing sixth.)
            Filling out the next three places were Andy Ames, Sissel Bernsten-Heber and Alan Reynolds. This created the oddity of the top eight from 2012 again as the top eight in 2013, though in different order (only Lundy the same).
            Johnny Lawson, eight days after finishing second in the 3200 meters at the California State High School championships and two days after graduating from Sir Francis Drake, took ninth. His 50:56 was second behind only Varner, and the fastest by a high schooler since Ron Elijah’s 49:01 in 1970. It brought Lawson a third High School trophy, matching Jon Sargent (1991-93). The first female high schooler, Melissa Brown, was unusually far back in 201st place. Lawson, and his sister Summer, also won $5,000 Dipsea Foundation scholarships.  The other two winners were Jax Rieff and Liam Vlaming.
            Melody-Anne Schultz, 17th, extended her own record as the oldest woman (71) to win a black shirt. In fact, no woman older than 63 has ever won a shirt. Schultz ran a sensational 1:17:06, more than thirty minutes below the Race’s previous age record.           
            Roy Kissin, 13th, teamed with son Peter (45th), who ran for Haverford College, to win the Alan Beardall Family Trophy. 
            Thomas Taylor, 37, won the Runner Section with an actual time of 56:27 (1hc). Wyatt Miceli, 12, was 24 seconds back. Tanya Fredricks and Nancy Simmons, winners of the Runner Section the two previous years, were now the 21st and 27th Invitational finishers, respectively.
--In January, the Dipsea Committee announced on the Race web page that runners would not be allowed on Muir Woods Road from Hauke Hollow down to the Mailboxes. Instead, they had to use the newly reopened Dipsea Trail immediately south. A collision between a motorist and a Highway Patrol officer during the 2012 Race was cited as the reason. The closure created an uproar, as the road is historic and safe while the new trail is longer and narrow with steep dropoffs, making passing difficult and dangerous. After three months of negotiations, with County Supervisor and veteran Dipsea racer Steve Kinsey (531rd in 2013) playing a role, the road was not only restored to runners, it was closed to all motor vehicles, which were detoured to Highway 1.
--The State Park installed a new water fountain, in the style of those built on Tamalpais in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, atop Cardiac. A dedication ceremony was held June 7. Eve Pell, the 1989 Dipsea champion, spearheaded the project as a memorial to her late husband Sam Hirabayashi. At the time of his death in 2011, Hirabayashi held every Dipsea single age record but one from 74 through 83. The State Park’s Victor Bjelajac also played a key role. As the 1917 Tamalpais Conservation Corps fountain at Lone Tree has been unreliable since 1982, the new fountain became the only drinking water over the last five miles of the Dipsea Trail.
--Barbara Robben, whose parents George and Wilma Leonard owned the last mile of the Dipsea Trail before it was absorbed into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, became the first 80-year-old woman to finish the Dipsea. 
--A low branch on upper Dynamite resulted in several nasty head wounds. One of those forced to abandon as a result was George Frazier, ending his 33-year consecutive Dipsea finish streak.
--Michael and Mary Etta Boitano, who won three consecutive Dipseas (1971-73) as pre-teens, were jointly inducted into the Race Hall of Fame at the dinner two nights earlier.
--Tony Stratta, whose Dipsea career stretched from 1947 through 2007, with almost no missed years, was posthumously named winner of the Jack Kirk “Dipsea Demon” Award. Stratta had died in March at age 82, and his children Valerie and James accepted the trophy.
--Mike Giannini of the Marin County Fire Department was presented the Jerry Hauke Award for his work on the Race’s emergency plan.

1. Diana Fitzpatrick (55), Larkspur, 1:02:42 (16hc) [:04 margin]
2. Chris Lundy (42), Sausalito, 56:46 (10)  fastest woman
3. Brian Pilcher (56), Ross, 55:51 (9)
4. Hans Schmid (73), Greenbrae, 1:10:30 (23)
5. Alex Varner (28), San Rafael, 47:59 (0)  fastest time
6. Andy Ames (50), Boulder, CO, 54:58 (6)
7. Sissel Bernsten-Heber (49), Mill Valley, 1:02:13 (13) second fastest woman
8. Alan Reynolds (49), Sausalito, 54:39 (5)
9. John Lawson (18), Forest Knolls, 50:56 (1)  first HS, second fastest time
10. Cliff Lentz (48), Brisbane, 55:10 (5)
11. Roy Rivers (56), Mill Valley, 59:33 (9)
12. Julian Lepelch (12), Mill Valley, 57:41 (7)
13. Roy Kissin (56), Larkspur, 1:00:41 (9)
14. Jared Barrilleaux (28), Petaluma, 52:01 (0)
15. Stephen Donahue (35), San Francisco, 53:01 (1)
16. Eric Stewart (45), Oakland, 56:05 (4)
17. Melody-Anne Schultz (71), Ross, 1:17:06 (25)
18. Mark Richtman (58), Novato, 1:03:18 (11)
19. Bradford Bryon (55), Penngrove, 1:00:27 (8)
20. Jerry Edelbrock (64), Corte Madera, 1:07:29 (15)
21. Tanya Fredricks (47), San Anselmo, 1:04:41 (12)
22. John Litzenberg III (43), Glen Ellen, 55:41 (3)
23. Tim Wallen (49), San Francisco, 57:46 (5)
24. Elizabeth Shortino (49), San Anselmo, 1:06:01 (13)
25. Ashley Sternfels (41), Mill Valley, 1:03:05 (10)
26. John Hudson (50), Mill Valley, 59:05 (6)
27. Nancy Simmons (53), Belvedere, 1:08:07 (15)
28. Darrin Banks (47), Berkeley, 57:14 (4)
29. Mark Helmus (59), Davis, 1:04:15 (11)
30. David Ripp (61), San Rafael, 1:06:17 (13)
31. Bradley O’Brien (51), Novato, 59:21 (6)
32. Trevor Reinhart (17), Ross, 55:27 (2)
33. Chris Knorzer (44), Rocklin, 56:30 (3)
34. Alison Zamanian (43), Orinda, 1:03:33 (10)
35. Mimi Willard (59), Kentfield, 1:12:37 (19)
36. Daniel DiMeo (26), Sacramento, 53:43 (0)
37. Iain Mickle (52), Sacramento, 1:00:50 (7)
38. Brian Gillis (33), San Francisco, 55:01 (1)
39. Dimitrios Sklavopoulos (68), Mill Valley, 1:13:08 (19)
40. George Torgun (35), Berkeley, 55:17 (1)
41. Anders Fox (18), Holland, 55:27 (1)
42. Craig Miller (51), Mill Valley, 1:00:36 (6)
43. Greg Nacco (53), Larkspur, 1:01:41 (7)
44. Liz Gottlieb (37), San Rafael, 1:02:59 (8)
45. Peter Kissin (22), Larkspur, 55:02 (0)
46. Doug Steedman (58), San Francisco, 1:06:04 (11)
47. Jenny Wong (37), Oakland, 1:03:07 (8)
48. Christopher Hunt (52), Ross, 1:02:09 (7)
49. Nick Bingham (42), Reno, NV, 58:12 (3)
50. Keith Krieger (66), Placerville, 1:12:12 (17)

1,409 finishers; foggy and wet throughout
Team: Tamalpa (Fitzpatrick, Pilcher, Schmid, Ames, Bernsten-Heber)

Christie Pastalka

by Barry Spitz

When Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four minute mile, he got worldwide acclaim and ultimately a knighthood. When Belvedere’s Christie Patterson Pastalka became the first woman to run Marin’s brutally rugged, 14-mile Double Dipsea Race in under two hours, in 1987, she got a few high-fives and a t-shirt. In the decades since, there have been thousands of faster miles but not one other sub-two woman’s Double. So who has the last laugh?
            Christie’s memorable Double came just 13 days after winning the Dipsea Race, and almost didn’t happen. For one, she was committed to Ride & Tie, a two-person, horse riding/running event whose national championship always conflicted with Double, except in ‘87. Then, on her drive to Stinson Beach—where the Double Dipsea begins and ends—a fallen tree slowed traffic and she barely made it to the start line.
“I rushed up, tossed my money down to register and set right off,” Christie says. “After the first turn I stopped to tighten my shoelaces, pin the change I got from registering to my shorts and tie back my hair, which was then quite long. I also hadn’t time to drink and then there wasn’t any water delivered yet to the Muir Woods station. I didn’t think this was a good race. But when I started running back from the turnaround in Mill Valley, I saw people that should have been ahead of me and realized I was going well after all.”
            Leading most of the race, Christie was finally passed by winner Russ Kiernan, but finished seven seconds ahead of third placer Darryl Beardall. Her actual time of one hour, 58 minutes, 42 seconds broke the Double record of Peggy Smyth (who still holds the Dipsea women’s record) by nearly three minutes. Christie again had the fastest woman’s time in the 1992 Double.
            Christie (nee Bellingall), who turned 65 in April, grew up in Belvedere. She played field hockey at Dominican Convent High, which moved from San Rafael to Sleepy Hollow and changed its name to San Domenico during her senior year. She earned her bachelors degree at U.C. Berkeley, then trained as a nurse at the College of Marin.
            Christie married in college, changing her name to Patterson. In 1975, she had a daughter, Kim, now a mother of two. For years after the marriage ended, Christie was a busy single mom, working full-time as a nurse in San Francisco.
            In 1980, a friend, Toby Pickett, suggested a walk over the Dipsea Trail, which Christie had never seen. It was cool so the group started jogging. At the end, her companions encouraged Patterson to start training.
            Christie ran her first Dipsea in 1982 and won a top-35 finish black shirt. The following year she was fourth and won the Women’s Best Time award with her 1:01:32. She sat out ’84 with an injury--“I was doing too much too soon”—then came back a year later with a fifth place, and a sixth in ’86. In 1987, Christie ran a sensational 57:06—then the fifth fastest ever by a woman--and won by 18 seconds over defending champion Gail Scott, who had mistakenly followed a longer trail that now bears her name.
            But at the peak of her athletic success—she would also win a national Ride & Tie championship, earning $6,000--Christie stepped back. Her parents took ill and, as a nurse, she assumed care responsibilities. In 1990, she had a second child, Tommy, with husband Tomas Pastalka. And her back, an issue since first going en pointe in classical ballet as a child, was flaring up.
“Doctors told me that if I didn’t stop running I would compress my spine and end up in a wheelchair,” she says. “I did my own long-term therapy, built around yoga, plus biking and cross-country skiing, and healed myself without drugs or surgery.”
            Her back healthy, Christie ran her first ultramarathon, a 50K (31 miles), at age 62.
“Christie joined our ultra-running training group,” says veteran Marin runner Janet Bodle. “She can not only run forever, but can discuss books, current events and other interesting topics while pulling us uphill, then leave us in the dust on the downhill.”
“That Christie can keep running and competing on a pretty high level for almost 30 years is a testimony to her balanced approach to training,” says Tomas. “She has a smooth, relaxed running style that keeps her from injuries.”
            In 2011, Christie won her first Dipsea Race black shirt in 18 years, and this year finished holding hands with Tomas. She was 27th in last year’s Double.
“Most people who talk to me about my Mom, complete strangers or family friends, typically bring up something about her running accomplishments,” says Tommy. “But I know all she does for our family when there is no trophy or medal involved.”

Friday, May 31, 2013



Megan McGowan, the girl who captivated Marin by winning the Dipsea at ages 9 and 10, was not actually lost. There were no missing person posters, no photos on milk cartons, no computer-generated aging images in tax booklets. Nonetheless, the running community searching for Megan—for the 100th anniversary of the Dipsea in 2005, the 100th running of the race in 2010, for the Dipsea Hall of Fame—could not find her. But a lucky click on yet another Google search has resolved the mystery. Megan, who changed names to Kaltinger, then McGuire, and is now Megan Sawyer, is a happily married mother of two, living in Kansas.
            Though burdened with a birthday in May-- young Dipsea contenders born just AFTER the June race gain extra head start minutes—Megan’s brief Dipsea career is among the brightest ever. In 1989, her stepfather and coach, Michael McGowan, began driving 7-year-old Megan the 800 miles roundtrip from southern California to train on the Dipsea course. She ran in the Runner Section, easily qualifying for Invitational status. A year later, as a 60-pound, second grader, Megan led the entire race, by as much as six minutes atop Cardiac. But the peerless Sal Vasquez caught her a half-mile from the finish. Her time was one hour, nine minutes.
            In 1991, Megan lost two handicap minutes but improved to 1:05:32 to best Hall of Famers Eve Pell, Mike McManus and Vasquez for the win. In ’92, Megan lost four more head start minutes—down to 16—and was written off by local pundits. She proved them wrong by running 58:09, not only winning the race by more than a minute but also the Women’s Best Time Trophy, at age 10! It remains one of the most astonishing performances in Dipsea history.
            In ’93, Megan turned in another still-standing age-record, 59:13, missing the Best Time award by just a single second. But with her handicap slashed four additional minutes, she finished fourth. She has never returned.
“I was a happy kid,” Megan says of those Dipsea years, which also yielded several national age road records. “Running was really fun. I was winning all the time. I was beating adults. I was winning a gazillion trophies.”
            A growth spurt—six inches in ten months—and overtraining led to the debilitating knee ailment known as Osgood-Schlatter disease. She came back to run in high school, but no longer at a national class level. Still, she impressed the coach at the U.S. Military Academy. Megan applied, never expecting to get in; West Point’s acceptance rate is among the lowest of any college and she had been rejected by U.C.-Santa Barbara. But she was admitted. (I wrote one of her letters of recommendation.)
“West Point is not an easy place to be,” says Megan. “I was busy keeping up academically and running stopped being fun. I realized I wanted to pursue an advanced degree rather than serve five years in the military.” It was also a tough time at home. Her mother (Kathy) left Michael, and Megan split permanently from him as well, taking her mother’s name (Kaltinger). And her natural father died. Megan dropped out of West Point in her sophomore year.
            An old friendship with then U.S. mile record holder Steve Scott led her to Cal State-San Marcos, where he coached. Again she ran, again without passion.
“One day, I just told myself that I’m done with racing,” she says. “At once, I felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders.” Megan, now 31, has not been in a single race since, though she still runs and plans to enter a brutal obstacle race, the Tough Mudder, this fall.
            A marriage to another West Pointer stationed in Kansas did not last. But Megan stayed to study at Kansas State University and now works at the KSU Biosecurity Research Institute. She and husband Aaron Sawyer live in Manhattan, home of the university, with daughters, Adalynn, three, and Harlow, who just turned one.
“Megan takes initiative to learn new things on her own and always strives to do the best job possible,” says her supervisor, Julie Johnson. “She’s the only person I know with a master’s degree in microbiology who’s also crazy/ambitious enough to train and compete in the Tough Mudder.”
“My wife is self motivated, strong and driven, whether at home, with her career, or training for a future race,” says Aaron. “She is also a loving mother and wife; wanting nothing more than to enjoy the time we have together as a family. I can only imagine what our daughters will achieve in life with their Mother nurturing and guiding them toward their hopes and dreams.”
“I definitely want to return to the Dipsea,” says Megan. “No one would recognize my last name so if I run really slow it wouldn’t matter!”