Brian Pilcher Wins the 2015 Dipsea Race
In his post-race acceptance speech after winning the 105th Dipsea, Brian Pilcher graciously praised and thanked everyone that competed because he knows how hard and rewarding it is for anyone of any age to win any kind of a race.
“I run in a ton of national championships and while I frequently have the highest age grade, I never get to cross the finish line first,” Pilcher says. “So, it is really special and unique that a 58-year-old actually can come in first.”
For Pilcher, it was the second time he crossed the finish first in the Dipsea. He became only the eighth man – led by seven-time champion Sal Vasquez -- to win multiple Dipseas and the first since Russ Kiernan in 2002 when Kiernan won the second on his three Dipseas.
“I was thinking how few people have won multiple Dipseas and it is a very special honor,” Pilcher says. “With the minutes handicaps it makes it so close that anyone can win in the right year with the right race. However, being able to do it multiple times shows a different level of performance. Of course, that makes what Sal did even more spectacular, but that was with different handicaps. I have had a substantial amount of success in national races and it was getting frustrating not to have won a second Dipsea, but this gets that monkey off my back.”
Nagged by injuries, Pilcher had to wait six years between his Dipsea victories, the second longest stretch behind Jack “The Dipsea Demon” Kirk who won his first Dipsea in 1951 and his second in 1967.
In the 105th Dipsea Pilcher, a retired real estate financer from Ross, outran the field of 1,500 runners on the 7.4-mile course from downtown Mill Valley to Stinson Beach to win the historic trail race. His one minute and 58 second victory over second-place finisher and first-time Dipsea runner Matias Saari, 44, of Anchorage, Alaska was the largest margin of victory since 2003 when Melody-Anne Schultz won the second of her three Dipsea championships.
In his second ever Dipsea race Rickey Gates, 34, of San Francisco finished third in a time of 49:11, wrestling the Fastest Time Award trophy away from scratch runner Alex Varner of San Rafael, who had won it a record six times previously. Chris Lundy, 44, of Sausalito placed fourth and won the Fastest Female Time Award despite experiencing flu-like symptoms on Saturday.
“The only runner I was worried about was Chris Lundy,” said Pilcher, who took the lead for good on June 14 when he passed 75-year-old Hans Schmid, the 2012 Dipsea champion, after Cardiac Hill near the halfway point of the trail race.
Lundy, who finished second in the Dipsea in 2012 and 2013, gained an extra minute head start this year in the time-handicapped race which awards head starts based on age and gender. She thought she had recovered nicely from a bike accident in Half Moon Bay in January, but her Dipsea training suffered a setback when she became ill two days prior to the race.
“If I run the time I thought I should, I would have been very close to (Pilcher),” Lundy said.
Lundy ran two minutes slower than she had hoped and finished 2:27 behind Pilcher. Heath Hibbard, 62, of Montrose, Colo. was fifth. Varner placed ninth overall yet, along with teammates Saari, Gates, Alan Reynolds and Gus Gibbs, helped the Pelican Inn Track Club for the second year in a row win the Team Trophy, edging out the Tamalpa Runners Club, which had won the trophy 36 times in the previous 37 years.
Diana Fitzpatrick, the 57-year-old two-time defending Dipsea champion from Larkspur and one of only five women to win multiple Dipseas, placed 11th overall. She was among the 35 Dipsea black T-shirt winners that included 57-year-old Bradford Bryon of Penngrove, who became the third runner in Dipsea history after Russ Kiernan and Steve Stephens of San Anselmo to win at least 20 black T-shirts in Dipsea history.
Quinn Lehmkuhl of North Tahoe High School was the first girls high school finisher and 14-year-old Drake High School runner Wyatt Miceli was the first boys high school finisher. Miceli, who placed 16th overall, and his half-brother John Lawson of Forest Knolls won the Alan Beardall Family Trophy.
Fiona Cundy, 27, of Oakland was the first runner from the Dipsea Runners Section to finish.
The Dipsea – the oldest trail race in America and the country’s second oldest footrace behind the Boston Marathon – had a starting field representing 31 states plus the District of Columbia, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Entrants ranged in age from 7-year-olds Kristen Slatter of Mill Valley and Max Pasquale of Novato to 81-year-old Barbara Robben of Berkeley and 80-year-old Bill Dodson of Mountain View.