Barry Spitz

Thursday, June 28, 2018

2018 Dipsea

108th Dipsea
June 10, 2018

Both Chris Lundy and Alex Varner produced brilliant, historic efforts, and finished 1-2. Lundy claimed her seventh women’s Best Time award—no other woman has won more than four--and became, at age 47, the oldest, male or female, ever to win that prestigious honor. Varner tied one of the Dipsea’s most treasured records by earning an eighth Time trophy. But only one could be first to the finish line and, for the second year in a row, the order was Lundy, then Varner. Curiously, in the first 104 Dipsea races, never had two runners finished 1-2, in the same order, in consecutive years. It finally happened in 2015-16, when Matias Saari was twice runner-up to Brian Pilcher, then immediately again in 2017-18.
Prognosticators diverged in naming pre-race favorites, with, oddly, four of the previous year’s top eight finishers not returning. Three-time champion Pilcher, who likely would have been favored, was denied entry after submitting his application after the deadline. This was the first year of a new rule that ended an unwritten courtesy of admitting past champions late.
Race morning conditions were excellent, a day after blustery winds and a day before arrival of a heat wave. As in 2017, Jamie Rivers, in the first start group, led through the early checkpoints. But, at 67, Rivers had “maxed” out on her head start, stuck again at 25 minutes. She lost her lead to another two-time winner, Diana Fitzpatrick, before Cardiac.
Fitzpatrick, enjoying two added head start minutes from 2017 (one from dropping her 2014 Winner’s Penalty), held the lead until passed by Lundy in Steep Ravine. (This always treacherous section was in worse condition than at any time in recent memory, though State Park officials made critical repairs immediately before the Race.) When Varner passed Fitzpatrick, she conveyed the news that Lundy was still ahead. (He replied, “damn it.”) Varner whittled away, even on the final straightway when Lundy broke the tape. 
Lundy’s chances had appeared bleak only months earlier. In 2017, she tore a ligament as she leaped over the stile onto Highway 1. The injury required surgery and Lundy was unable to run for six months. She also lost a minute to the Winner’s Penalty. But, at age 47, she managed to cut a massive two minutes, 32 seconds from her winning 2017 time. (“I have a great physical therapist,” Lundy said after.) Another honor, the Women’s Time Trophy, was secured soon after when Clara Peterson (8 handicap minutes) crossed the finish line three seconds too late.
Varner sliced an almost identical amount of time from 2017 as Lundy, 2 minutes, 37 seconds. So, at the finish line, he was 15 seconds back instead of the 20 in the previous year. Though he had trained hard for the win, Varner took solace in his epic, record-tying 8th Best Time trophy. Mason Hartwell’s old record of seven had stood for 73 years, until Mike McManus eclipsed it in 2000. Like Varner, McManus never won. Hartwell won once (in 1917). Varner dedicated his race to his former coach, Linda Broderick Gill, the 1995 women’s time winner who succumbed to a brain tumor earlier in the year.
Mark Tatum, injured in 2017 after a seventh place finish the year before, crossed third. Just seven seconds behind was fellow Coloradan Heath Hibbard. Six days later, Hibbard would win the DSE Walt Stack Double Dipsea by more than 11 minutes, with other black shirt winners Jeffrey Stern and Sissel Berntsen-Heber second and third. 
Just two more seconds back of Hibbard was two-time winner Diana Fitzpatrick. She was given the nod for fifth place in a photo finish with first time Invitational racer Gary Gellin. (It was so close that the chip time placing was reversed upon examination of the videotape. The two-second gap shown in the official results is overstated.)
Joannie Siegler, winner of the Runner Section in 2017, improved more than two minutes in Invitational and finished 13th. Cliff Lentz (8th), Jamie Rivers (20th) and John Litzenberg III (26th) all took home their 19th black shirts. For Jamie, it was a mixed result. She extended her record for black shirts by a woman but missed out on a seeming certain Family Trophy when husband Roy Rivers, the 2008 winner, collapsed late in the race. Only one scratch runner, John Lawson, 30th earned a shirt.
Extremely tight was the battle for the 35th and last black shirt as Joseph Biehl, a past High School Trophy winner, just nipped Alan Reynolds. Biehl would also have missed out had not George Torgun, a two-time shirt winner several places ahead, suddenly wilted yards from the finish and was escorted to the medical tent.
--Elena Shemyakina (50th) and Mikhail Shemyakin (46th) became the first mother-son winners of the Alan Beardall Trophy since the award was inaugurated in 1977. Husband/dad Alexander Shemyakin finished 216th. 
--Remarkable performances came out of the Runner Section. Benjamin Stout ran 52:32 (scratch) the third fastest time of anyone on Race day, behind only Varner and Gus Gibbs. But Jack McAfee ran the fifth fastest time, 53:07 and also had one head start minute, so won the Runner Section.
--There was a disturbing scene near the end when a runner violently shoved another out of the finish lane and to the ground (temporarily knocking out some timing equipment in the process). The offending runner was disqualified.
--Wolfgang Zech, who extended his consecutive finish streak that dates from the 1970s, received the Jack Kirk Trophy.
--Robb Briggs, who has run the Race 22 times and manages the website was honored with the Red Tailed Hawk Trophy.
--The Norman Bright Trophy went to 2012 champion Hans Schmid, 78. Injured in a track workout earlier in the week, Schmid started anyhow. Within 100 yards, he was forced to walk, and did so the rest of the way, taking 2 hours, 27 minutes. That was 68 minutes slower than in 2017, when Schmid had extended his record as the oldest black shirt winner.
--Faring even worse was another Dipsea legend, Russ Kiernan, age 80. He struggled early but somehow made it to Cardiac, where concerned officials made him sign a waiver to continue. He signed and went on, only to collapse. Kiernan was carried to Pantoll for medical evaluation, failing to finish for the first time in 49 starts. Brad Bryon, whose 22 black shirts trails only Kiernan (30) and Steve Stephens (23), also had to drop out. In all, there were six ambulance evacuations, plus one by helicopter.
--At the Dipsea Foundation dinner Friday (June 8), $37,000 in scholarships was presented to six high school seniors. A new one honored Linda Broderick Gill and went to Shannon McKillip-Herr, who then went on to win the girls High School Trophy. The other scholarship winners were Wyatt Miceli (who finished 10th in 2014), Julian LaPelch (a best of 12th in 2013), Belen Buckley, Gary Griffis, and Anais Nagle.
--Also at the Dinner, Peggy Smyth, on the 30th anniversary of her historic 55:47, still the fastest women’s Dipsea time ever, was inducted into the Race’s Hall of Fame. She became the 33rd member.
--A joyous Centennial celebration of the first Women’s Dipsea Hike was held April 21, 2018, exactly 100 years to the day after the first of those five pioneering Hikes. Entries were limited to 500 women, who each received hand-inked, cloth bib numbers, as in 1918. Many wore period costume. The event was clearly billed as not a race and most everyone walked, with no results recorded. Barbara “Bobby” Van Meurs, the 89-year-old daughter of the 1918 Hike winner Edith Hickman, was the official starter. There was a luncheon at the Stinson Beach Community Center.
--In the 2017 Quadruple Dipsea (November 25), Alex Ho ran 4:24:38 to win by nearly eight minutes. On the women’s side, Penny MacPhail was first, by just over a minute, in 5:31:25.

1. Chris Lundy (age 47), Sausalito, 58:36 actual time (11 minute handicap), 15 second margin/fastest woman
2. Alex Varner (32), San Rafael, 48:51 (1hc), fastest time
3. Mark Tatum (58), Colorado Springs, CO, 1:00:21 (11hc)
4. Heath Hibbard (65), Montrose, CO, 1:05:28 (16hc)
5. Diana Fitzpatrick (60), Larkspur, 1:09:30 (20hc)
6. Gary Gellin (49), Mill Valley, 54:32 (5hc)
7. Sissel Berntsen-Heber, Boca Raton, FL, 1:04:53 (15hc)
8. Cliff Lentz (53), Brisbane, 57:00 (7hc)
9. Gus Gibbs (32), Boise, ID, 51:39 (1hc) 2nd fastest time
10. Clara Peterson (34), Corte Madera, 58:39 (8hc) 2nd fastest woman
11. Wayne Best (50), San Rafael, 56:41 (6hc)
12. Darrin Banks (52), Berkeley, 58:19 (7hc)
13. Joannie Siegler (61), Davis, 1:11:28 (20hc)
14. Lyle Rumon (15), San Rafael, 55:46 (4hc) 1st HS
15. Dominic Vogl (31), Novato, 52:51 (1hc)
16. John Gardiner (45), Rancho Santa Margarita, 56:07 (4hc)
17. Tyler Hansen (37), Santa Barbara, 53:21 (1hc)
18. Jeffrey Stern (31), Mill Valley, 53:23 (1hc)
19. Daniel Kono (49), Berkeley, 57:25 (5hc)
20. Jamie Rivers (67), Mill Valley, 1:17:35 (25hc)
21. Chuck Smead (66), Mosca, CO, 1:09:39 (17hc)
22. Wes Thurman (46), Colorado Springs, CO, 56:45 (4hc)
23. Sarah Tabbutt (59), Mill Valley, 1:11:56 (19hc)
24. Jared Barrilleaux (33), Petaluma, 54:15 (1hc)
25. Roy Kissin (61), San Francisco, 1:06:18 (13hc)
26. John Litzenberg III (48), Glen Ellen, 58:19 (5hc)
27. Paul Law (16), Mill Valley, 56:34 (3hc)
28. Rebecca Wheeler (28), Tiburon, 1:01:40 (8hc)
29. Fiona Cundy (31), Berkeley, 1:01:41 (8hc)
30. John Lawson (23), Forest Knolls, 53:44 (scratch)
31. Corey Baxter (35), Fairfield, 54:53 (1hc)
32. Marina Glaus (30), San Jose, 1:01:57 (8hc)
33. Doug Steedman (63), San Francisco, 1:09:05 (15hc)
34. Loren Newman (31), Napa, 55:10 (1hc)
35. Joseph Biehl (18), Juniper Hills, 55:19 (1hc)
36. Alan Reynolds (54), South Lake Tahoe, 1:02:20 (8hc)
37. Katie Fast (45), Mill Valley, 1:06:27 (12hc)
38. Tyler Harwood (25), Petaluma, 54:34 (scratch)
39. Benjamin Stern (26), Petaluma, 54:35 (scratch)
40. Craig Miller (56), Mill Valley, 1:03:36 (9hc)
41. John Hudson (55), Mill Valley, 1:02:46 (8hc)
42. Stephen Donahue (40), Mill Valley, 56:52 (2)
43. Lucas Agricola (36), Rancho Santa Margarita, 55:54 (1hc)
44. Scott Dazey (55), San Diego, 1:03:19 (8hc)
45. Nate Brennand (25), San Francisco, 55:27 (scratch)
46. Mikhail Shemyakin (35), Mill Valley, 56:54 (1hc)
47. Jennifer Foster (44), Mill Valley, 1:06:57 (11hc)
48. Sid Bagga (20), Orinda, 56:09 (scratch)
49. Camron Shahmirzadi (28), 56:10 (scratch)
50. Elena Shemyakina, Geneva, IL, 1:15:19 (19hc)
--170. Shannon McKillop-Herr, San Anselmo, 1:12:11 (9hc) 1st woman HS

1,415 finishers; sunny with mild temperatures
Team: Pelican Inn Track Club; Varner, Gellin, Lentz. Gibbs, Gardiner