Saturday, November 24, 2007

Quad Dipsea - Mill Valley, CA

This is the most extreme race held on the famous Dipsea Trail. The Double Dipsea, one of the oldest footraces in the country is help on the same route: from Stinson Beach to Mill Valley and back. I've done that several times. It's the site of the Bruce Dern movie On the Edge. The whole course is quite inspirational. Not really being a great descender in general, I have never gotten the hang out of pounding down those endless steps into Mill Valley (or the less extreme stairs to Stinson Beach for that matter). Still I've managed to hobble my way through it and have fun doing the Double.

But I had always found the idea of crossing over the hill four times to be utterly unfathomable. Even this year, after doing three fifty milers that had all gone well, I admit that I was still intimidated by this race.

I arrived in Mill Valley (unlike Double Dipsea, the Quad starts in Mill Valley rather than Stinson) the morning of the race and did my best to keep warm in the sub-freezing temperatures. I was still a bit stiff from JFK the week before. But overall feeling pretty good (no excuses). Running up those steps at the start amidst the crush of runners is not that fun. I pushed a little too hard to get away from the hordes. Finally it lets out onto the trail. Chuck Wilson was working the aid station halfway at the Summit and refilled my water bottle quickly on each pass through.

I noticed that Beth Vitalis took an early lead among the women, continuing another strong season for her. I happened to be running behind Krissy Moehl most of the way, probably a sign that I was running too fast. I ran the first leg feeling pretty good, thinking that I was holding back, in 1:13. I picked up another bottle of Perpetuem from my crew and headed back over the hill to Mill Valley. I pounded down those infernal stairs reaching the start/finish area at 2:31.

Quad Dipsea Halfway

Still feeling good on the third leg I got back to Stinson Beach at 3:53.

I thought I had 5:30 in the bag, and I would have been happy with that the week after a good race at JFK 50M. Halfway up the hill I cramped out. I took some electrolytes but then got nauseous worse than I have at any race. As I proceeded to lose my lunch onto the trail Keith Blom caught up and said "I hope you're going to cover that up!". I'm not really sure what caused all this. Probably some combination of not enough electrolytes and not enough fuel. Finally I got up and started a slow hobble back up to the aid station at the summit. I stopped there and drank and ate for a while. I really didn't want to finish this race. Somehow I got up and ran/fell down the mountain for a 5:49 finish.

Erik Skaggs won in an impressive 3:53, threatening the men's course record. Beth Vitalis set the women's course record in an incredible 4:39:39.


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