Becoming the first runner to repeat as Dipsea Race champion since 2001 was a worthy enough achievement for Diana Fitzpatrick last year.
But being recognized in “Faces In The Crowd” in Sports Illustrated was her crowning moment.
The 56-year-old Fitzpatrick, a NYU School Law graduate who works with Nolo Press, a self-help publisher in Berkeley, became the first runner to win back-to-back Dipseas since four-time race champion Shirley Matson. That feat landed the 55-year-old Fitzpatrick in the July 7 issue of SI and that earned her more congratulations that she can remember.
However, if Fitzpatrick manages to beat the odds and the field for a three-peat at the 105th Dipsea on June 15, she might make the cover of SI. No runner has won three consecutive Dipsea races since eight-time champion Sal Vasquez in 1984.
Last year’s race will be hard to top. Since first entering her first Dipsea in 2000, Fitzpatrick has lowered her actual race time from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach pretty much every year she has competed. In 2007, her Dipsea race time was 1:08.59 when she placed 48th overall at the age of 49. Last year, even though she was six years older, she reduced her time by more than six minutes to 1:02.41 and she needed every second as she edged out 42-year-old runner-up Chris Lundy of Sausalito by four seconds and beat 56-year-old third-place finisher Brian Pilcher by nine seconds – the closest Dipsea finish in 25 years.
That nine-second difference between the top three finishers was the tightest Dipsea race since 1988 when Kay Willoughly, Peggy Smyth and Patricia English placed 1-2-3 within 10 seconds.
Fitzpatrick, a three-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, utilized a 16-minute head start. The Dipsea awards head starts based on age and gender. In 2013, Hans Schmid of Greenbrae became the oldest winner in Dipsea history at the age of 72. He finished fourth last year.
“Winning the Dipsea definitely meant more to me than any other race I have run,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think it's because the Dipsea is more than just a race. It has history and is really more a celebration of Mt. Tam and trail running and Marin and the commitment of so many people who do the race each year. It is the community of people that has built up around the race and care so much about it that make running it and winning it so special. I can't imagine there's any other race that has runners who come back year after year for 10, 20 and 30 plus years.”
Alex Varner, a scratch runner with no head start, passed more than 400 runners and finished fifth with an actual time of 47 minutes and 59 seconds, 62 seconds faster than last year’s effort despite falling this time on the slick course. He extended his Dipsea record by winning the best time award in the race for the fifth consecutive year. No runner has won the race with the fastest overall time since seven-time Dipsea champion Vasquez in 1985.
Varner later received the Norman Bright Award for “Extraordinary Effort in the Dipsea Race” in post-race awards ceremony near the finish line at Stinson Beach.
The race course, which ascends to more than 1,300 feet above sea level, includes a steep climb up three flights of stairs totaling 688 steps, a mere quarter mile into the race. It also features a trek through rainforest of Muir Woods, slippery slopes and a dangerous descent down Steep Ravine, where the path narrows between rocks and tree roots. The finish line at Stinson Beach comes in sight cresting the hill on the Moors, which offers a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.
The starting field consisted of 1,500 runners ranging in ages from seven (Isabella Hughes and Brendan King of Mill Valley) to 87 (Roy Harvey of Medford, Ore.) and 83 (Lyle Langlois of Phoenix, Ariz) plus 79-year-old Barbara Robben of Berkeley, the oldest female. Runners representing 28 states from Maine to Hawaii plus the District of Columbia and four foreign countries competed.
The first nine finishers in the race started in different age groups, a testament to the head start handicapping system.
Hours after driving back from the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Oregon, 18-year-old John Lawson of Woodacre was the first high school runner to finish in the Dipsea field. He placed ninth in a time of 51.56. Melissa Brown of St. Louis, Mo. was the first female high school finisher.
Roy Kissin (13th) of Larkspur and his 22-year-old son, Peter, (46th) won the Alan Beardall Family Trophy while the Tamalpa Club took home the team trophy for 36th time in the last 37 years, led by Fitzpatrick, Pilcher, Schmid, Andy Ames and Sissel Berntsen-Heber.
On the 10th anniversary of Jack Kirk’s final start in the Dipsea at the age of 95, the family of the late Tony Stratta, who competed in 59 Dipsea races, the last in 2007 at the age of 77, accepted posthumously Kirk’s “Dipsea Demon” award for dedication, perseverance and performance over time.
Mike Giannini, longtime Emergency Medical Services Battalion Chief from Marin County Fire, was named the winner of the Red Tail Hawk Award (Jerry Hauke Perpetual Award) for leadership, dedication and sportsmanship. He was instrumental in forming the existing emergency plan for the all-volunteer race.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FINAL 2014 DIPSEA RESULTS IN ORDER OF FINISH
CLICK HERE FOR THE FINAL 2014 DIPSEA RESULTS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
CLICK HERE FOR THE FINAL 2014 DIPSEA RESULTS BY HEAD START GROUP
CLICK HERE FOR THE 2014 DIPSEA PHOTO SCRAPBOOK
|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) |
|Alex Varner ||4th Place ||49:08||(scratch)|
|Clara Peterson ||7th Place ||59:06 ||(8 Minutes Headstart) |
|Joseph Biehl ||31st Place ||58:35 ||(5 Minute Headstart)|
|Andrea von Eschen ||107th Place ||1:08:54 ||(9 Minutes Headstart)|
|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 |
|John Lawson ||8th Place ||51:08 ||(Scratch)|
|Wyatt Miceli ||10th Place ||57:26 ||(6 Minutes Headstart)|
|Tyler Deniston ||556th Place ||51:32 ||(Scratch)|
|"Leadership, Dedication and Sportsmanship"|
|Karl Baeck, Volunteer, Muir Woods Trail Captain |
|"Extraordinary Effort in the Dipsea"|
|Eve Pell ||604th Place ||1:51:35 ||(25 Minutes Headstart)|
|"Dedication, Perseverance and Performance"|
|Bob Bunnell||447th Place ||1:26:16 ||(15 Minutes Headstart)|
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