100th Dipsea Champion's Plaque Unveiled
Reilly Johnson, an elementary school student from Mill Valley, won the historic 100th running of the Dipsea Race last year as an 8-year-old. Her championship plaque was unveiled at a ceremony held on the famed Dipsea Steps on April 23.
The bronze plaque, made by Bronze Plus in Sebastopol, was installed on the third and final flight of Dipsea stairs off Edgewood Avenue in Mill Valley. There are now 688 steps from bottom to top.
Merv Regan, longtime chairman of the Dipsea Race Board of Directors, and President of the Dipsea Race Foundation, attended the ceremony. The Dipsea Race Foundation is in the process of an ongoing project to remodel more steps on the Dipsea course.
Hal and Wendy Johnson, Reilly's parents, were also present. Their daughter, now nine, will defend her Dipsea title on Sunday, June 12, of this year.
With a 25-minute head start in the time-handicapped race based on age and gender, Reilly led from the start in downtown Mill Valley to the finish line at Stinson Beach last year to outlast 68-year-old grandmother and three-time Dipsea champion Melody-Ann Schultz of Ross to become the youngest winner ever in the 7.5-mile trail race. The 52-inch, 62-pound, pigtailed fourth grader won the race in an actual race time of 1:12.31, just seven seconds faster than Schultz.
Johnson, who finished 199th in the 2009 Dipsea, ran 15 minutes faster last year. In her first Dipsea in 2008 at the age of six, Johnson became the youngest Dipsea runner to qualify for the Invitational Section as her father, Hal, sacrificed his own Invitational status to run with her and help shepherd her over the course.
Reilly will get a 19-minute head start in this year's Dipsea. Nine-year-old girls receive a 20-minute head start, she is deducted one additional minute for being a recent champion. If she wins the 101st running of the Dipsea, Reilly would become the youngest repeat Dipsea champion since 10-year-old Megan McGowan in 1992.