The 2023 Dipsea
Paddy O’Leary of San Francisco didn’t need the luck of the Irish to win the 112th Dipsea Race in Marin County on Sunday.
He just needed to be in really good shape.
“I had better health. That’s the biggest thing,” said O’Leary took two weeks off and trained strongly for a month after failing to complete a 100-mile race in Japan in April. “I just love this race. Winning it is secondary to competing in it.”
The 35-year-old O’Leary, a lacrosse player and ultra-runner originally from Ireland who is now a senior scientist in the oncology department at UCSF, passed a pair of two-time Dipsea champions in the final mile of the 7.5-mile course from downtown Mill Valley to Stinson Beach Park to win his first Dipsea after finishing runner-up to Eddie Owens last year. Owens, who pulled out of this year’s Dipsea because of a troublesome Achilles injury, was one of the first to congratulate O’Leary afterward.
It also capped quite a month for O’Leary. His girlfriend, Eleanor, proposed to him in May.
Posting a time 1:40 faster than last year, a healthier O’Leary won by 44 seconds to cross the finish line ahead of five females – Julia Maxwell Bailey of Ross, 2017-18 Dipsea winner Chris Lundy of Mill Valley, 2013-14 Dipsea champion Diana Fitzpatrick of Larkspur, former two-time All-American cross-country runner from Duke University Clara Peterson of Corte Madera, and 17-year-old Redwood High School senior Audrey MacLean. It is the first time since 1988 that five females have placed in the top of the six of the Dipsea led by Kay Willoughby.
O’Leary, who placed 499th in his Dipsea debut in 2019 in the country’s oldest trail race, also won the Best Time Trophy (49:23) and Maxwell Bailey, the 27-year-old daughter of the late Brian Maxwell – a Canadian Olympian and founder of the PowerBar company -- recorded the fastest time by a female (57.07) in her first Dipsea since 2012 and since the birth of her first child. She surprised everyone with her strong showing except Clara Peterson.
“We’ve been training together, and I was laughing at all the predictions,” Peterson said. “She was so courteous. She was always one step behind me (in training) and I could tell she wasn’t even working that hard. I thought she was going to win today.”
“I thought I could win, too,” Maxwell Bailey said. “When I reached Cardiac, I was in third.”
Then along came O’Leary. He caught and passed Peterson in Steep Ravine then went after four others in front of him.
“I heard him coming and I was like `Oh, man.’ I stepped aside,” Peterson said. “If someone is that fast, you just want to get out of the way.”
Peterson, who since 2017 when she was 40th has improved her time by five minutes, wasn’t surprised by O’Leary. However, the 39-year-old mother of four was caught off guard by a teenager.
“I was really nervous in that final stretch because there was this young girl named Audrey who passed me in Steep Ravine, but I caught her back,” Peterson said.
MacLean, who on Friday night earned a scholarship from the Dipsea Race Foundation at its annual Dipsea Hall of Fame dinner and plans to attend Middlebury College in Vermont, was the first girl high school finisher, and Blake Martin, also from Redwood High School, was the first boys high school finisher. He placed 12th overall.
Fitzpatrick, a 65-year-old three-time Olympic Marathon trials qualifier and NYU Law School graduate who worked with Nolo Press, a self-help publisher in Berkeley, led most of the race. The Dipsea race gives head starts to runners based on age and gender and Fitzpatrick, with a 24-minute head start, was in front of the field of 1,500 runners until she was passed coming down from The Moors on the Dipsea Trail by Lundy – who with two extra head start minutes this year was bidding to become the third woman in Dipsea history to win the race three times.
Lundy’s lead lasted a bat of the eye.
“I had just passed Diana and Paddy passed me two seconds later,” she said.
“I saw it all. It all unfolded right in front of my eyes,” said a smiling Fitzpatrick who still went home with the Alan Beardall Family Trophy teaming with her 30-year-old daughter Katie, who placed 96th overall. “But I surprised myself.”
Fitzpatrick, whose training was limited this winter by the amount of snow in Lake Tahoe engulfing the family’s cabin, didn’t feel Dipsea ready until last week. She was hoping for a Top 10 finish and was delighted to be in the Top 5 and surrounded by so many female runners.
“It’s pretty amazing and they’re younger,” said Fitzpatrick who became the all-time leader among females by winning her 20th Dipsea Black Shirt. “I think it’s really good that they adjusted the handicaps. It’s helping younger people and more females.”
The team trophy was presented to the Pelican Inn Track Club, led by 58-year-old Cliff Lentz, the former mayor of Brisbane, who placed eighth overall behind 27-year-old Frederick Huxham of Ross, a California state champion in the 3,200 meters at Redwood High School. Lentz -- who is third all-time in Dipsea Black Shirts won behind the late Russ Kiernan and Bradford Bryon -- shared the trophy with teammates Dominic Vogel, Jeffrey Stern, Dipsea record nine-time fastest time trophy winner Alex Varner, and Jared Barrilleaux.
One of the best efforts of the day was turned in by 71-year-old Buzz Burrell of Boulder, Colorado, one of 32 states represented in the 112th Dipsea. He started in the Runner’s Section near the back of the field and passed around 800 runners to be the first finisher from the Runner’s Section to cross the finish line, placing 546th overall with a time of 1:14.39.
Five teenagers placed in the Top 35, including 14-year-old Justin Shern from Petaluma who earned the final Dipsea Black Shirt given annually to the top 35 finishers.
The post-race awards ceremony in Stinson Beach Park had one of the largest turnouts in years. Longtime Dipsea results expert Sebastien Pehu was named the winner of the Red Tail Hawk Award for “Leadership, Dedication and Sportsmanship,” 80-year-old Michael Adams competing in his 50th Dipsea was the recipient of the Dipsea Demon Award for “dedication, perseverance and performance over time,” and Michael Christy, who competed in his 10th consecutive Dipsea after a near-death experience in 2012, won the Norman Bright Award for “Extraordinary Effort in the Dipsea Race.”
|The 2023 Awards|
|Champion:||Paddy O'Leary||49:23||(47:23, 2 Minutes Head Start)|
|2nd Place:||Julia Maxwell Bailey||57:07||(48:07, 9 Minutes Head Start)|
|3rd Place:||Chris Lundy||1:02:17||(48:17, 14 Minutes Head Start)|
|4th Place:||Diana Fitzpatrick||1:13:08||(49:08, 24 Minutes Head Start)|
|5th Place:||Clara Peterson||58:13||(49:13, 9 Minutes Head Start)|
|Fastest Time Male:|
|Paddy O'Leary||1st Place||49:23||2 Minutes Head Start|
|Fastest Time Female:|
|Julia Maxwell Bailey||2nd Place||57:06||(9 Minutes Headstart)|
|First High School Finisher - Boy:|
|Blake Martin||12th Place||52:22||(1 Minute Headstart)|
|First High School Finisher - Girl:|
|Audrey MacLean||6th Place||1:00:29||(11 Minutes Headstart)|
|Winning Team: Pelican Inn Track Club|
|1.||Cliff Lentz||8th Place:||1:00:15|
|2.||Dominic Vogel||10th Place:||52:33|
|3.||Jeffrey Stern||11th Place:||52:34|
|4.||Alex Varner||13th Place:>||53:41|
|5.||Jared Barrilleaux||16h Place||54:26|
|Alan Beardall Award: Winning Family|
|Diana Fitzpatrick||4th Place||1:13:08||(24 Minutes Headstart)|
|Katie Fitzpatrick||95th Place||1:08:10||(2 Minutes Headstart)|
|First Finisher-Dipsea Section|
|Buzz Burrell||546th Place||1:14:39||(22 Minutes Headstart)|
|Jerry Hauke Perpetual Award (The Red Tailed Hawk)|
|"Leadership, Dedication and Sportsmanship"|
|Sebastien Pehu, Longtime Dipsea results expert|
|Norman Bright Award|
|"Extraordinary Effort in the Dipsea"|
|Michael Adams||1129th Place||2:24:12||(25 Minutes Headstart)|
|Jack Kirk "Dipsea Demon" Award|
|"Dedication, Perseverance and Performance"|
|Michael Christy||206th Place||1:16:14||(11 Minutes Headstart)|
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