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A Brief History of the Dipsea Race

by Barry Spitz

One summer day in 1904, several members of San Francisco's venerable Olympic Club set off for the Dipsea Inn, which had just opened on the Pacific Ocean sand spit now called Seadrift.

They took the ferry to Sausalito, then the train to their starting point, the depot in Mill Valley. A wager was made as to who could make it to the Inn first. The challenge proved so exciting that Club members decided to make an annual race of it.

The first Dipsea was held on a rainy November 19, 1905. More than 100 runners registered for what the Examiner proclaimed as “the greatest cross-country run that was ever held in this or any other country." Oakland high schooler John Hassard arrived at the Inn first, with Cornelius Connelly, one of only two scratch (no head start) runners, second.

In many ways, the Dipsea remains remarkably akin to that first race and a runner from 105 years ago would likely be able to find his way today. In 1907, the course was slightly shortened, eliminating the final run on the sand. From 1965, head starts, formerly individually assigned, became based strictly on age. Women were officially admitted in 1971, although they had been running the race since 1950 and all-women's Dipseas held from 1918 through 1922 actually outdrew the "men's" editions.

The first limitations on number of entries and on route selection were placed in 1977. In 1983, the race date was fixed as the second Sunday in June.

In 1993, a Hall of Fame was established to establish some of the race's legendary heroes, such as Jack Kirk, "The Dipsea Demon," a two-time winner who ran every Dipsea from 1930 until 2003. Jack Kirk passed away in January of 2007, at the age of 100.


Official Dipsea Race historian Barry Spitz will release a new centennial edition of his long sold-out, definitive book, Dipsea, The Greatest Race. Pre-publication orders are now being accepted on its official website: DipseaBook.com.


Dipsea Champions: 1905-Present


1905 - John Hassard
1906 - John Hassard
1907 - William Joyner
1908 - George Behrmann
1909 - Basil Spurr
1910 - Oliver Millard
1911 - Albert Gorse
1912 - Donald Dunn
1913 - Oliver Millard
1914 - Andrew Ahern
1915 - Lee Blackwell
1916 - Henry Anderes
1917 - Mason Hartwell
1918 - Percy Gilbert
1919 - Victor Chapman
1920 - William O'Callaghan
1921 - Dan Quinlan
1922 - Earl Fuller
1923 - William Letcher
1924 - William Westergard
1925 - John Cassidy
1926 - Lloyd Newman
1927 - William Fraser
1928 - Wayne Morefield
1929 - Angelo Frediani
1930 - William Magner
1931 - Francis O'Donnell
1934 - Torrey Lyons
1935 - John Hansen
1936 - Jimmy McClymonds
1937 - Paul Chirone
1938 - Clarence Hall
1939 - Allan Nelson
1940 - Ernie Marinoni
1941 - Willie Dreyer
1946 - Charles Richesin
1947 - Allan Baffico
1948 - Leslie McGregor
1949 - Paul Juette
1950 - Jim Shettler
1951 - Jack Kirk
1952 - Walter Deike
1953 - Ralph Perry
1954 - Herb Stockman
1955 - William Mazzini
1956 - Raymond Fuller
1957 - Mike Deasy
1958 - Fernando Leon
1959 - James Imperiale
1960 - Bob Hope
1961 - Phillip Smith
1962 - Peter McArdle
1963 - Alan Beardall
1964 - Gregg Sparks
1965 - John Satti
1966 - Carl Jensen
1967 - Jack Kirk
1968 - Don Pickett
1969 - Vance Eberly
1970 - Norman Bright
1971 - Mike Boitano
1972 - Mike Boitano
1973 - Mary Etta Boitano
1974 - Darryl Beardall
1975 - Joe Patterson
1976 - Homer Latimer
1977 - Homer Latimer
1978 - Darryl Beardall
1979 - Don Chaffee
1980 - Donna Andrews
1981 - Florianne Harp
1982 - Sal Vasquez
1983 - Sal Vasquez
1984 - Sal Vasquez
1985 - Sal Vasquez
1986 - Gail Scott
1987 - Christie Patterson
1988 - Kay Willoughby
1989 - Eve Pell
1990 - Sal Vasquez
1991 - Megan McGowan
1992 - Megan McGowan
1993 - Shirley Matson
1994 - Sal Vasquez
1995 - Joe King
1996 - Joe King
1997 - Sal Vasquez
1998 - Russ Kiernan
1999 - Melody-Anne Schultz
2000 - Shirley Matson
2001 - Shirley Matson
2002 - Russ Kiernan
2003 - Melody-Anne Schultz
2004 - Shirley Matson
2005 - Russ Kiernan
2006 - Melody-Anne Schultz
2007 - Jamie Berns
2008 - Roy Rivers
2009 - Brian Pilcher
2010 - Reilly Johnson
2011 - Jamie Rivers
2012 - Hans Schmid
2013 - Diana Fitzpatrick
2014 - Diana Fitzpatrick