The 2014 Dipsea

Diana Fitzpatrick Breaks The Tape(Mill Valley, CA) – Diana Fitzpatrick did it again.

The 56-year-old defending champion of the Dipsea won the historic 7.5 mile trail race from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach on Sunday for the second year in a row, beating Rickey Gates of San Francisco – one of the pre-race favorites – by one minute and 10 seconds. Fitzpatrick, a NYU School Law graduate who works with Nolo Press, a self-help publisher in Berkeley, became the first runner to repeat as Dipsea champion since four-time race winner Shirley Matson won back-to-back in 2000-01.

Fitzpatrick was as surprised as anyone.

“I was predicting you as the winner,” Fitzpatrick said to Gates after he crossed the finish line in second place in his Dipsea debut, the 104th running of the iconic race.

Fitzpatrick wasn’t mentioned often as a pre-race favorite, even though she is a three-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. She won last year’s race by only nine seconds over Chris Lundy of Sausalito, who pulled out of Sunday’s race with leg cramps. In addition, for winning the Dipsea last year, Fitzpatrick incurred a one-minute champion’s penalty, meaning she had one less minute head start this year.

That didn’t bother Fitzpatrick as she welcomed running under the radar.

“It made it relaxing. I didn’t feel any pressure,” said Fitzpatrick who finished sixth in her age division in her Boston Marathon debut in April, competing in the same age group as two-time race champion and Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson. “It was fun not being in the spotlight, which is a nice way to go … I know I said I was surprised last year when I won it but this year I mean it.”

Fitzpatrick, who had a 16-minute head start and built nearly a three-minute lead by the time she reached Cardiac Hill -- the highest point on the course at 1,360 feet above sea -- credited the mileage she logged in preparing for the Western States Endurance Run as helping her repeat as Dipsea champion.

“It paid off,” she said. “I got to the top of the Dipsea stairs (three flights totaling 688 steps) faster than I normally do. The tough stuff was easier this year.”

Gates, who started 15 minutes behind Fitzpatrick, never saw Fitzpatrick on the course, but heard the cheers for her as she made her final turn onto the finishing stretch at Stinson Beach. Three weeks ago, Gates finished 27th overall in the Bay to Breakers. He clocked an actual time of 49:31 from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach.

“It was really exciting. I have been racing professionally for eight years so I usually know my competitors,” Gates said. “She’s top notch and this race brings out the best in so many runners.”

Gates was followed across the finish line by Galen Burrell of Mill Valley, another first-time Dipsea runner, and Alex Varner of San Rafael, who extended his record by winning the Best Time Award for a sixth consecutive year. A scratch runner, Varner posted an actual time of 49:09, which included passing approximately 600 other runners. He also helped recruit Gates and Burrell to join the Pelican Inn Track Club, which won the team trophy on Sunday.

When Varner came into the finishing chute, he was told that Fitzpatrick was the winner. Seconds later, he saw her and quipped, “Again?!”

Sissel Berntsen-Heber of Mill Valley placed fifth followed by Alan Reynolds of Sausalito and Clara Peterson of Corte Madera, a three-time NCS champion at Head Royce School and a five-time All-American runner at Duke who, after giving birth to her third child last November, turned 30 this year. She won the Fastest Female Time Award with 59:06.

Johnny Lawson of San Anselmo, a freshman on UC Berkeley’s track and field team, was ninth. He and his 13-year-old brother Wyatt Miceli won the Alan Beardall Family Award.

Joseph Biehl of Jupiter Hills was the first boy high school finisher and Andrea von Eschen of Mill Valley was the first girls high school finisher while Tyler Deniston, a 23-year-old from San Francisco, won a trophy as the first finisher from the Runner’s Section. The Dipsea first-timer clocked an incredible time of 51.52 to easily qualify for the Invitational Section next year.

The starting field for the 104th Dipsea consisted of 1,500 runners ranging in ages from seven-year-olds Luciana Pasquale of Novato and Justin Alley and Zoe Takaraski, both of Mill Valley, to 80-year-olds Porter Davis of San Francisco and Phil Phythian of Mill Valley and Barbara Robben of Berkeley, the newest inductee into the Dipsea Hall of Fame. Runners are assigned head starts based on age and gender.

There were runners entered in Sunday’s race representing 28 states (and the District of Columbia) from New Hampshire to Alaska plus three countries; England, Switzerland and Canada from Quebec to Vancouver.

On the 10th anniversary of the day the award was first presented, the Jack “Demon Dipsea” Kirk Award for “dedication, perseverance and performance over time” was given to Bob Bunnell, who has competed in nearly 50 Dipseas. Bunnell finished second to Kirk in the 1967 Dipsea. The then Terra Linda High School teenager lost to the “Dipsea Demon” by five seconds, yet won the “High School Trophy” that year and nine years later won the “Best Time Award.”

The Dipsea’s Red Tail Hawk Award, also known as the Jerry Hauke Perpetual Award, for “leadership, dedication and sportsmanship” was presented to longtime race volunteer captain Karl Baeck. He first approached the Dipsea Race Committee 27 years ago to volunteer to help the race and for the last 13 years he has been trail captain of the Muir Woods area.

The Norman Bright Award – given for “Extraordinary Effort in the Dipsea Race” – was presented to Dipsea Hall of Famer Eve Pell, who celebrated the 25th anniversary of her Dipsea victory on Sunday. Last year, Pell spearheaded a fundraising campaign to build a much-needed water fountain at Cardiac Hill -- the highest point on the Dipsea Trail -- for all people on the trail to enjoy a refreshing drink. The fountain was erected on the spot where she married her husband and Dipsea icon, the late Sam Hirabayashi.





The 2014 Awards
Champion: Diana Fitzpatrick 1:03:21 (47:21, 16 Minutes Head Start)
2nd Place: Rickey Gates 0:49:30 (48:31, 1 Minute Head Start)
3rd Place: Galen Burrell 0:49:39 (48:40, 1 Minute Head Start)
4th Place: Alex Varner 0:49:08 (49:09, 0 Minute Head Start)
5th Place: Sissel Berntsen-Heber 1:02:39 (49:40, 13 Minutes Head Start)

Fastest Time Male:
Alex Varner 4th Place 49:08(scratch)

Fastest Time Female:
Clara Peterson 7th Place 59:06 (8 Minutes Headstart)

First High School Finisher - Boy:
Joseph Biehl 31st Place 58:35 (5 Minute Headstart)

First High School Finisher - Girl:
Andrea von Eschen 107th Place 1:08:54 (9 Minutes Headstart)

Winning Team: Pelican Inn Track Club
1. Rickey Gates 2nd Place 49:31
2. Galen Burrell 3rd Place 49:40
3. Alex Varner 4th Place 49:09
4. Alan Reynolds 6th Place 56:08
5. Jamey Gifford 9th Place 52:19

Alan Beardall Award: Winning Family
John Lawson 8th Place 51:08 (Scratch)
Wyatt Miceli 10th Place 57:26 (6 Minutes Headstart)

First Finisher-Dipsea Section
Tyler Deniston 556th Place 51:32 (Scratch)

Jerry Hauke Perpetual Award (The Red Tailed Hawk)
"Leadership, Dedication and Sportsmanship"
Karl Baeck, Volunteer, Muir Woods Trail Captain

Norman Bright Award
"Extraordinary Effort in the Dipsea"
Eve Pell 604th Place 1:51:35 (25 Minutes Headstart)

Jack Kirk "Dipsea Demon" Award
"Dedication, Perseverance and Performance"
Bob Bunnell447th Place 1:26:16 (15 Minutes Headstart)

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