About 25 years ago my brother Mike, who was then living just off the Dipsea Trail of Mill Valley, Ca, invited me to take the challenge and race the 7.4 mile very hilly trail race that had hundreds of stairs to climb and descend. The super scenic trail also has steep hills, switchbacks, narrow one person sections, wild downhill trails, from the city of Mill Valley all the way to the Stinson Beach finish line.
The trick was entering the race! You literally have to overnight mail your entry form and check to their PO Box the morning of the day the entry opens! It fills in about a day so it’s not easy unless you live in the vicinity. The race only allows 1,500 total participants, 750 “runners” and 750 invitational’s (those who performed well enough in the previous year – it’s also easier for them to make the entry). The race is always the 2nd Sunday of June.
This race is rich with history; it’s also of note that it’s the 2nd oldest major footrace in the US! The Boston Marathon is oldest. There is a detailed book written on the Dipsea race.
I was around 30, lived in Fairfield, Ca at that time and started running with Sal Vasquez who was a top track and middle distance athlete in the over 40 category. He could run back to back miles at just under 5:00/mile! He could run 5 minute miles over 50 as well! We ran together a couple times weekly, he was very strong but I usually made a good training partner, although I would need certain recovery on those days! Sal won the Dipsea race more than anyone in history, it’s an age staged handicapped race, like he needs more minutes! Sal is an amazing life success story as well!
I’ve run the race 16 times in a row, now having taken several years away; I’ve got the itch to race it again! My training blog will show how I’m heading in that direction. I’ve never stopped running, just many other types of training mixed in now. My weight is 10-12lbs over where I must be on race day to do well. I’ve also never trained properly for this, mileage has to be around 40 miles/week with a day or two of intervals mixed in. Speed training (intervals) needs to start two months before the race to peak around race day, so April is the time. We also have a nice all weather track up here again!
So, currently at under 20 miles/week, I’ve got to get to 30 miles/week by March, and some 15 mile runs under my belt Apr/May. These base miles will give you the ability to go faster much longer, so I will also begin 2-4 mile faster pace runs each week now and bring it up methodically. On recovery days I can swim (work on anaerobic, cardio), or cycle, with 1-2 days off/week.
Because of the many stairs, (here are great turn by turn photos of the course), I will practice on the stairclimber or run Harvey’s casino stairs (20+ floors/2-5 reps) once/week, adding a good climbing trail run once/week… and there’s some good one’s up here! Plus I’m at 6-7,000ft or more, elevation training.
A goal for me on this 1st race back in the runners division would be under 70 minutes actual time, this would put me around the top 10 in that division, however the course is much more crowded for this division, which will slow you down waiting to pass on narrow trails. Anything under 1:20 will get me in the invitational next year. My best is 60-61 minutes actual.
Also best to pre run the Dipsea course out and back, around 14 miles twice before the race, so will try to accomplish that as well. A couple months of underwater blowouts are also needed for enhanced lung capacity as its rough climbing stairs and hills while maintaining speed.
Weight is another factor for me as I was 155-160lbs racing in the 90’s, I’m usually around 170-175lbs as of this time 2/13/13 with a larger upper body. However, with daily fasting and increased miles weekly I know I’ll drop fat and upper body muscle to reach my goal of race day weight of 158lbs.
Goal with intervals will be consistent 2:40-50 ½ mi, 1:10-20 ¼ mi reps. This will take probably 5-6 weeks to attain. I’ll do my best, if I follow this plan I should be under 70 minutes and therefore strong placement. Preparation is everything here, done properly you’ll find yourself moving swiftly on the course never struggling on the edge, having to stop, etc, which I’ve done! It’ll be in the daily blog on training above, till next time, God Bless,