Today I ran my first trail race, and not just any trail race, the Double Dipsea. For those that have never heard of the Dipsea, is a bay area tradition. That can be traced all the way back to 1905. This grueling 7.4 mile trail race begins in Mill Valley and finishes in scenic Stinson Beach, but not before tackling more than 4300 ft in elevation change.
The Double Dipsea tackles this trail twice, begining in Stinson Beach 7.4 miles to the turnaround in Mill Valley and back to Stinson Beach. At about 14 miles (depending on the shortcuts you choose) this is not the longest race I have run, but the nearly vertical hills make this race a challenge for even for the most confident of runners.
My experience with the Double Dipsea was exhilarating. Not only is this an absolutely gorgeous course, but the history and challenge of this course will definitely getting me coming back.
With the staggered start, I began the race about 1 hour after the first runner. the first 3 miles or so is all up hill. Being a faster runner I soon found myself in trail traffic, but trafic was eased by any number of potential routes. Being a newbie on the course I generally just followed whoever looked like they knew where they were going.
Upon reaching the top of the first climb I welcomed the downhill, but dreading the uphill that must follow. The down hill sections I found were made easier by running the long way. It seemed all the short cuts and the trail itself were quite congested. I chose to follow the fire road so that I could simply let fly.
The next ascent was nice as the steep sections are broken up by a road that is on a much less severe incline. Then down the infamous Dipsea Steps. I didn't count them all, but there are definitely more than 600, and it defiantly seems like 1000 when you are on your way back up.
Despite feeling lost in all the trail options on the way back to Stinson Beach, I managed to achieve a spectacular time of 2:00:24.
For those interested I wore my Merrell Trail Gloves. I now have 700 miles on them and they are still going strong.
Have you run the Dipsea, Double Dipsea, or even Quad Dipsea? What strategy helped you?