Barry Spitz

Friday, June 23, 2017

2017 Dipsea

107th Dipsea
June 11, 2017

While there is a certain cachet to being “the best Dipsea racer never to have won,” most runners would trade the title for a victory. Jack Kirk once held the honor, compiling a brilliant record but going 20 years before his first win. Russ Kiernan then assumed the mantle, recording 16 top-ten finishes before the first (n 1998) of ultimately three wins. Chris Lundy and Alex Varner then moved to the fore, both owning six Best Time trophies without a win. Lundy also had three runner-up finishes. On June 11, Lundy exited the “never to have won” ranks when she came from behind late to win. Arriving second was Varner.
Varner, enjoying his first head start minute, Lundy and Matias Saari, runner-up the two previous years, became the pre-race favorites when two-time defending champion Brian Pilcher did not enter due to injury. But it looked like a different two-time winner, Jamie (Berns) Rivers, would steal the show. At age 66, Rivers finally started in the first, maximum 25-minute head start group. She led at every checkpoint, by more than three minutes atop Cardiac. She continued solo in front down Steep Ravine, then past White Gate. But Lundy, with 12 head start minutes, finally went by at the “Door #1” shortcut off Panoramic Highway. Varner too passed Rivers, but not Lundy, who won by 20 seconds. Her actual running time was 1:01:09.
Lundy, 46, became a rarity in recent Dipsea history, a winner who had achieved national class status as an open (as opposed to age group) runner. In some ways, the last such winner was Darryl Beardall, back in 1978. Lundy ran at Penn, then compiled a brilliant career, not yet over, in mountain racing, where she represented the United States in several world championships. She is a veterinarian, lives in Sausalito and is a long-time member of the all-women Impala Racing Team.
Lundy won her first women’s time title in 1999, when she clocked a 56:05 and finished second overall. The mark remains the third fastest women’s time ever. Lundy added time trophies in 2006, 2010, 2012 (also second place), 2013 (again runner-up, just four seconds behind winner Diana Fitzpatrick) and 2015. Her six is two more than any other woman. Lundy sat out the 2016 Dipsea after undergoing hamstring surgery.
Varner, finally leaving the scratch group upon turning 31, made a gallant effort, passing Saari surprisingly early, at Cardiac. His 50:29 won him a seventh Best Time trophy (the previous six had been consecutive, among the greatest feats in Dipsea history). Varner’s time was 23 seconds faster than in 2016, but slowest among his seven winning efforts. Varner’s seven wins ties Mason Hartwell, one behind Mike McManus’s record of eight.
Jamie Rivers charmed the awards ceremony crowd by describing what it was like to be so alone during the Dipsea Race. She did earn a major prize, the Alan Beardall Family trophy, with husband Roy (10th).
Saari had again won the Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks in September; he wrote a book on the history of that race in 2016. But he slowed 3:08 from his Dipsea runner-up effort of last year and had to settle for fourth. Slower times, despite seemingly ideal chilly running weather, seemed the norm. Last year’s third placer, Heath Hibbard, also slowed over three minutes and ended up ninth. The 2016 winner of black shirt #35, Sarah Tabbutt, ran nearly two minutes slower, yet now finished 34th. Lundy’s winning clock time (actual time less head start) was 2:41 slower than Pilcher’s last year.
--Winning the High School trophy was Marin Catholic freshman Lyle Rumon, 21st. He got a “high-five” from one of his coaches there, Diana Fitzpatrick, when she came up for her black shirt. There was some controversy over the female high school trophy. Vanessa Miller, 13, finished 36th, nearly 200 places ahead of the winner, Quinn Lehmkuhl. But Miller was only to enter high school in the fall, so ruled ineligible for the prize.
--Former winner Hans Schmid turned in arguably the most astonishing performance of the day, winning a black shirt (#35) at the age of 77. That is three years beyond where men’s head starts cease to increase (age 74).
--The Pelican Inn Track Club—the name derived from the Muir Beach pub members patronize after evening runs—dominated the team competition. Their top five finishers arrived places 2-6.
--Joannie Siegler, 60, a decorated age group runner out of Davis, won the Runner Section in a tight finish. She recorded an actual time of 1:13:52 (20hc), reaching the finish one place, and less than five seconds, ahead of runner up Tyler Hansen (54:57, 1hc).
--Bob Bunnell, who completed his 50th Dipsea race day, was inducted into the Dipsea Race Hall of Fame as the 32nd member. Bunnell ran his first Dipsea in 1965. In 1967, he finished second (five seconds behind winner Jack Kirk), winning both the High School and Best Time trophies. He won a second Time trophy in 1976. Both his wife Derry and son Reed have also won black shirts.  
--Ambrose (Amby) Burfoot became the first Boston Marathon winner (1968) ever to race in the Dipsea. Burfoot had entered in the centennial year of 2010 but bowed out with an injury. Though he had hopes for a black shirt, a course reconnaissance four days before the race—he lives in Connecticut--convinced Burfoot to aim simply for a safe finish. He ended up 541st in Invitational, with the 1,063rd fastest time overall (1:37:31, 21hc).
--Dipsea Foundation scholarships were awarded to Joseph Biehl (Desert Christian HS), Sage Mace (Tamiscal), Annika Levaggi (Tamalpais), Elizabeth Labeewu-Anderson (Tamalpais) and Zoe Hebermann (Branson).
--The Jack Kirk Dipsea Demon trophy was won by Christie Patterson Pastalka, still racing 30 years after she won the Dipsea. The Norman Bright Award was presented to Don Makela, who finished 81st just three years after cardiac artery replacement surgery. And the Red Tailed Hawk trophy went to retiring start line announcer Bob Cullinan.  
--At the awards ceremony, mention was made was made of a fundraising effort to save Jack Kirk’s beloved 400-acre Mariposa property from development. Kirk died without a will or immediate relatives. The contact is sierrafoothill.org. There was also an announcement of the planned 100th anniversary celebration of the first Dipsea Women’s Hike, to be held April 21, 2018. Bobby Van Meurs, daughter of the 1918 Hike winner Edith Hickman, attended the Dipsea Foundation dinner along with her own daughter.

1. Chris Lundy (46), Sausalito, 1:01:09 (12hc), [:20 margin}  2nd fastest woman
2. Alex Varner (31), San Rafael, 50:29 (1hc)  fastest time
3. Jamie Rivers (66), Mill Valley, 1:15:08 (25)
4. Matias Saari (46), Anchorage, AK, 54:34 (4)
5. Galen Burrell (37), Louisville, CO, 51:55 (1)  2nd fastest time
6. Gus Gibbs (31), Boise, ID, 52:09 (1)
7. Andy Ames (54), Boulder, CO, 59:10 (8)
8. Clay Bullwinkel (60), Portola Valley, 1:03:18 (12)
9. Heath Hibbard (64), Montrose, CO, 1:06:21 (15)
10. Roy Rivers (60), Mill Valley, 1:03:37 (12)
11. Fiona Cundy (30), Oakland, 59:55 (8)  fastest woman
12. Benjamin Stern (25), Petaluma, 51:58 (scratch)
13. Diana Fitzpatrick (59), Larkspur, 1:10:02 (18)
14. Bradford Bryon (59), Penngrove, 1:03:03 (11)
15. Sissel Berntsen-Heber (53), Boca Raton, FL, 1:07:16 (15)
16. Cliff Lentz (52), Brisbane, 59:20 (7)
17. Steve Leffers (56), Fort Wayne, IN, 1:01:43 (9)
18. Andrew Cobourn (23), Minden, NV, 52:56 (scratch)
19. Josh Garrett (34), Pacific Palisades, 53:57 (1)
20. Steven Iglehart (25), San Francisco, 53:00 (scratch)
21. Lyle Rumon (14), San Rafael, 58:03 (5)  first high school
22. Daniel Kono (48), Berkeley, 58:04 (5)
23. Jared Barrilleaux (32), Petaluma, 54:06 (1)
24. Jamey Gifford (39), Hillsborough, 55:07 (2)
25. Doug Steedman (62), San Francisco, 1:07:09 (14)
26. Mark Tatum (57), Colorado Springs, CO, 1:03:14 (10)
27. John Hudson (54), Mill Valley, 1:01:19 (8)
28. Stephen Donahue (39), Mill Valley, 55:21 (2)
29. Wes Thurman (45), Colorado Springs, CO, 57:26 (4)
30. Bradley O’Brien (55), Novato, 1:01:37 (8)
31. John Litzenberg III (47), Glen Ellen, 57:43 (4)
32. Joshua Lerner (42), San Francisco, 56:55 (3)
33. Jerry Edelbrock (68), Corte Madera, 1:13:12 (19)
34. Sarah Tabbutt (58), Mill Valley, 1:12:13 (18)
35. Hans Schmid (77), Greenbrae, 1:19:28 (25)
36. Vanessa Miller (13), San Francisco, 1:05:42 (11)
37. Chris Banks (39), Kensington, 56:43 (2)
38. Ryan Matz (30), Thornton, NH, 54:46 (scratch)
39. Corey Baxter (34), Fairfield, 55:46 (1)
40. Clara Peterson (33), Corte Madera, 1:02:55 (8)
41. John Gardiner (44), Rancho Santa Margarita, 58:21 (3)
42. Craig Robinson (38), Mountain View, 57:29 (2)
43. Mikhail Shemyakin (34), San Francisco, 56:34 (1)
44. Kurt Ryan (59), San Anselmo, 1:06:52 (11)
45. Jennifer Foster (43), Mill Valley, 1:05:58 (10)
46. Don Lindsey (56), Petaluma, 1:05:01 (9)
47. Kristen McCarthy (43), Mill Valley, 1:06:16 (10)
48. John Lawson (22), Forest Knolls, 56:18 (scratch)
49. Richard Morrissey (56), Menlo Park, 1:05:24 (9)
50. Jeffrey Stern (30), Mill Valley, 56:33 (scratch)
--234. Quinn Lehmkuhl (17), Carnelian Bay, 1:14:13 (9)  first high school female

Team Pelican Inn Track Club: Varner, Jamie Rivers, Saari, Burrell, Gibbs

1,411 finishers; cool throughout, rain on Thursday before Race

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

CARL JENSEN
by Barry Spitz

Carl Jensen, the last runner, 50 years ago, to win Marin’s fabled Dipsea Race without a head start, died on Tuesday (January 17). The cause was a fast moving lung infection. The Kentfield resident was 72 and is survived by daughter Karissa Moreno and longtime friend Kathy Swiston.
Jensen, born in Pennsylvania, came to Novato as an infant with parents Milt and Marge. He attended local schools, including Marion (where he first met Kathy) and Olive. He was a member of the first full four-year class at new Novato High School, where he ran track and cross-country. He ran his first Dipsea in 1962, finishing 18th (one spot ahead of the legendary Jack Kirk). In 1963, Jensen ran fifty-three minutes, 28 seconds and, with five head start minutes, placed sixth.
In 1964, running for the Marin Athletic Club, of which he would later become president, Jensen improved his Dipsea time to 50:45. But without any head start, he wound up 38th.
In 1965, the Dipsea Race adopted likely its biggest change ever. Since the first Dipsea in 1905, head starts had been assigned individually, based on a (hopefully) impartial assessment of each runner’s ability. But the race was suddenly drawing too many entrants, from an expanding running community, to keep that system practical. So head starts became based solely on age, with the youngest and oldest runners starting first. (In 1971, when women were officially admitted, gender also became a factor.) Handicapping was crude in the inaugural year; the first three finishers each had 15 head start minutes and the next 17 were all “scratch” (no head start).
Jensen, then running for the College of Marin (he would be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2015) was in peak form in 1966. He logged 150 hilly miles a week, many on summer nights over the Dipsea Trail from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. He won the Ocean to Bay Marathon, finished second in the national 50-kilometer championship and would be named the Pacific Association’s 1966 Runner of the Year. Winning the Dipsea was his focus.
“Carl trained like a mad-man," says Kentfield’s Bob Bunnell, a friend who would finish second from scratch in 1967. "Workouts at 5:45 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. One of his favorite training runs was a 15-mile loop in Novato in which he would run 5 miles barefoot on railroad tracks in the middle of the run. This was typical of Carl's thought patterns - the tougher the better."
Jensen found himself in a race-long duel in ’66 with high school star Will Stephens and Ray Hughes, who had run the fastest actual time in the ’65 Dipsea. Jensen used his intimate course knowledge and fearless downhill running ability to prevail. His 48:57 brought him to the tape first, ten seconds over Stephens, 28 ahead of Hughes. Not much was made of Jensen winning from scratch; it had happened four times previously, as recently as 1962. But in the half century since, no scratch runner has been able to duplicate Jensen’s win.
But Jensen’s life was about to turn, for the worse. The Vietnam War was raging and Jensen was drafted that December. He applied to join the Army’s elite running team, which would have spared him combat, but did not hear back in time. A week before the 1967 Dipsea Race, Jensen stepped on a land mine while leading his platoon in Vietnam. He suffered more than 100 fragment wounds, requiring nearly 10 pints of blood transfusions and some 1,000 stitches. He spent 17 months in the hospital.
Jensen returned to Marin, first to Fairfax, then Kentfield. He earned a degree from San Francisco State University. He worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the YMCA, including leading backpack trips for kids in the Sierras. He started his own landscaping business. He coached at Novato High; one of his runners, Ron Elijah, went on to record the two fastest times in Dipsea history. He got heavily involved in veterans issues.
Finally, Jensen began to run again. In 1981, encouraged by a friend, Bert Botta, and running beside then IJ sports editor Ward Bushee, Jensen made an emotional return to the Dipsea. His time was 1:01:03 and, with three handicap minutes, he finished 110th. In 2007, Jensen was selected into the Dipsea Race Hall of Fame.
The death of wife Susan in 2005 devastated Jensen. He became depressed and I was among those he began calling frequently, sometimes to talk, sometimes simply to read me a poem. With other health issues, he was forced to stop working.
“Over the last four years or so, Carl was feeling great, doing exactly what he wanted to do,” says Kathy. “We took trips, he read a lot, mostly military history; he was happy.” But what first seemed a simple head cold quickly led to a hospital visit, and his death. 
Per Jensen’s request, there will be no funeral. A memorial service is being planned for early spring.

“Old Dipsea Runners Never Die, They Just Reach the 672nd Step”

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

106th DIPSEA
June 12, 2016

The stage was set for 2016 a full year earlier, right at the finish of the 2015 race. Brian Pilcher had won in 2015 by 1:58 over runner-up Matias Saari. Both Pilcher and Saari knew immediately that, in a potential rematch one year later, Pilcher’s Winners Penalty would cost him one head start minute, while Saari would gain a minute for turning 45. Thus, the two were immediately installed as favorites (and remained so all year) with a close battle anticipated. When the other top contender, Chris Lundy, did not enter due to injury, the two-man battle for first was sealed.
Pilcher, mulling another racing option, ended up registering well after the published deadline, a privilege, of unknown origin granted to past champions. Ironically, the Dipsea Committee had voted in February to end this privilege but decided not to apply the change until the 2017 race.
Race morning was cool and overcast, making for ideal, fast racing conditions. Hans Schmid, the 2012 champion, now 76, went off with the first (25 minute head start) group and led at the early checkpoints of Windy Gap, Muir Woods and Cardiac. (He would finish 14th extending his own record as the oldest black shirt winner.) Pilcher, now 59, set off with the 10-minute group.
“I felt a bit off but when I saw that my splits were good—16 minutes to the (Redwood) creek, 27-1/2 minutes to Halfway Rock, 37 minutes to Cardiac--I realized things were actually okay,” Pilcher said at the awards ceremony.  “When I passed Diana (Fitzpatrick, winner in 2013 and 2014), Jamie (Rivers, the 2007 and 2011 champ) and Hans sooner than I expected, I started thinking I might win. Then, on an easy, flat path, I just fell into the bushes. By the time I picked myself up, I lost maybe 20 seconds. I was then worried about when Matias might come.”
Pilcher actually had little reason for concern. His actual time of 56:28 was 28 seconds faster than in 2015 while Saari slowed 32 seconds. So Pilcher’s winning margin was a comfortable 58 seconds. With his wins in 2009 and 2015, he became only the fifth runner with more than two titles (joining Russ Kiernan and Melody-Anne Schultz, behind Shirley Matson with four and Sal Vasquez with seven).
Saari, again runner-up, just completed a book on the venerable Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks (a race he would win again in September) Third placer Heath Hibbard moved up two notches from 2015. But, barring a change, he will not add a head start minute in 2017. Darrin Banks, fourth, was coached in high school by Joe King, a two-time Dipsea champion. King, who just celebrated his 90th birthday and is the oldest living winner, was on hand to watch. Rickey Gates, fifth, the defending Best Time winner, slowed 35 seconds and now had the second fastest time. Best Time honors now went to Gus Gibbs (9th), who ran 49:23, ten seconds swifter than in 2015.
For the first time since 1977, no woman finished among the first ten, with Jamie Rivers (11th) and 2015 Runner Section winner Fiona Cundy (12th) leading the way. Indeed, the previous worst finish for the first woman since 1977 was sixth place. Cundy and Clara Peterson (16th) were the only women breaking one hour.
Hans Schmid extended his own record as oldest black shirt winner, finishing 14th at age 76.
Joseph Biehl, a student at Desert Christian High in Lancaster, CA, won the high school trophy (male) and finished 23rd overall. But those compiling the awards list had to scroll down to place 346 to find the female high school trophy winner, Anna Levaggi of Tamalpais H.S.
Corey Baxter, 33, of Fairfax, was first finisher from the Runner section. He arrived 581st overall with an actual time of 54:20 (1hc). He was 15 seconds ahead of Clay Bullwinkel.
--Continuing recent upward trends, an all-time high of six of the first nine finishers presently live outside California, and six scratch runners won black shirts. 
--The plank carrying the Dipsea Trail across Redwood Creek in Muir Woods was not put into place until the second week of May, fortifying calls to build a permanent, year-round bridge.
--Jerry Hauke, the towering figure of the Dipsea Race over the past 50 years, died in his sleep on April 14, age 80. Hauke directed the Dipsea Race for more than 30 years, then remained its key advisor. Over the years, Hauke beat back repeated government efforts to alter, diminish, even kill, the Dipsea Race. He, with his sons, personally built the start of the unpaved Dipsea Trail (west of Panoramic Highway) through the section now known as Hauke Hollow. A week before Hauke died, the Dipsea Committee had voted to present him the Dipsea Demon Award. One of his sons, Randy Hauke, accepted it on Jerry’s behalf.
--Also passing away, on August 20, was Kay Willoughby, the 1988 winner, of a neurological disease.  She was 70.
--Edda Stickle, the Race Director for the past 16 years, was inducted into the Dipsea Race Hall of Fame as its 31st member.
--Bruce Linscott, in charge of race day equipment since 2004, was presented with the Red Tail Hawk Award. Steve Stevens, the second runner to earn 20 black shirts (after Russ Kiernan), received the Norman Bright Award.
--Dipsea Foundation scholarships were awarded to Juan Martinez (Armijo HS), Brock Albee (Petaluma HS), Gabriel Carmel (Tamalpais HS), Rachel Bordes (Redwood HS) and Aidan Linscott (The Branson School).

1. Brian Pilcher (59), Kentfield, 56:28 (10 minute handicap), :58 victory margin
2. Matias Saari (45), Anchorage, AK, 51:26 (4hc)
3. Heath Hibbard (63), Montrose, CO, 1:03:11) (15hc)
4. Darrin Banks (50), Berkeley, 54:21 (6hc)
5. Rickey Gates (35), Madison, WI, 49:46 (1hc)  2nd fastest time
6. Galen Burrell (36), Boulder, CO, 49:57 (1hc)
7. Mark Tatum (56), Colorado Springs, CO, 58:05 (9hc)
8. Bradford Bryon (58), Penngrove, 1:00:17 (11hc)
9. Gus Gibbs (30), Ketchum, ID, 49:23 (scratch)  fastest time
10. Alan Reynolds (52), Sausalito, 56:24 (7hc)
11. Jamie Rivers (65), Mill Valley, 1:14:16 (24hc)
12. Fiona Cundy (29), Oakland, 58:44 (8hc)  fastest woman
13. Alex Varner (30), San Rafael, 50:52 (scratch)
14. Hans Schmid (76), Greenbrae, 1:15:55 (25hc)
15. Chris Knorzer (47), Rocklin, 55:05 (4hc)
16. Clara Peterson (32), Corte Madera, 59:15 (8hc)  2nd fastest woman
17. Thomas Rosencrantz (50), Mill Valley, 57:19 (6hc)
18. George Torgun (38), Berkeley, 53:26 (2hc)
19. Ryan Matz (29), Ellensburg, WA, 51:39 (scratch)
20. Jerry Edelbrock (67), Corte Madera, 1:09:51 (18)
21. Jared Barrilleaux (31), Petaluma, 52:52 (1hc)
22. Diana Fitzpatrick (58), Larkspur, 1:07:57 (16hc)
23. Joseph Biehl (16), Juniper Hills, 55:05 (3hc)  first high school
24. Craig Miller (54), Mill Valley, 1:00:18 (8hc)
25. Sissel Bernsten-Heber (52), Boca Raton, FL, 1:05:26 (14hc)
26. Benjamin Stern (24), Petaluma, 52:28 (scratch)
27. Bob Murphy (63), Spokane, WA, 1:07:45 (15hc)
28. Daniel Milechman (23), Mill Valley, 52:47 (scratch)
29. Jamey Gifford (38), Hillsborough, 54:48 (2hc)
30. Peter Callan (18), San Francisco, 53:55 (1hc)
31. Tyler Deniston (25), Concord, 52:55 (scratch)
32. Thomas Taylor (40), Brentwood, 55:08 (2hc)
33. Tim Wallen (52), San Rafael, 1:00:11 (7hc)
34. Edward Breen (34), San Francisco, 54:11 (1hc)
35. Sarah Tabbutt (57), Mill Valley, 1:10:18 (17hc)
36. Chris Banks (38), Kensington, 55:21 (2hc)
37. John Litzenberg III (46), Glen Ellen, 57:25 (4hc)
38. Kristen McCarthy (42), Mill Valley, 1:03:28 (10hc)
39. Kurt Ryan (58), San Anselmo, 1:04:39 (11hc)
40. Andy Ames (53), Boulder, CO, 1:00:43 (7hc)
41. Johnny Rutledge (45), Nicasio, 57:46 (4hc)
42. Elizabeth Shortino (52), San Anselmo, 1:07:48 (14hc)
43. Roy Rivers (59), Mill Valley, 1:05:04 (11hc)
44. Steven Katz (65), Larkspur, 1:10:12 (16hc)
45. John Lawson (21), Forest Knolls, 54:18 (scratch)
46. Mikhail Shemyakin (33), San Francisco, 56:22 (1hc)
47. Sarah Slaymaker (45), Mill Valley, 1:06:30 (12hc)
48. Michael Wolford (58), Jefferson, AR, 1:05:34 (11hc)
49. Stephen Donahue (38), Mill Valley, 56:45 (2hc)
50. Patricia Shore (49), Mill Valley, 1:07:54 (13hc)
--346. Annika Levaggi (17), Mill Valley, 1:15:53 (9hc)  first female high school

1,427 finishers; cool and overcast throughout
Team: Pelican Track Club (Saari, Gates, Burrell, Gibbs, Reynolds)


Friday, May 6, 2016

JERRY HAUKE
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


FIFTY YEARS AGO, THE 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.