Barry Spitz

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)