Getting My Mojo Back at the 2015 Double Dipsea

Repeat after me: Trails are rejuvenating! The Double Dipsea did not disappoint. When you pack 4,500ft of elevation gain/loss in less than 14 miles with who knows how many stairs you have to climb, so much for general fatigue. Add in 629 runners, an out & back on mostly single tracks with staggered starts, “on your left” becomes the running mantra. This year’s Double Dipsea was the 45th edition and there were lot of old timers here. After huffing & puffing up the stairs, I still can’t believe Alex Varner ran this course in 1:36! Here’s my Strava activity for this run:

Double Dipsea

I supposed my mind needed the 7 weeks of vegging out after the Miwok 100K more than my body, but I was glad to be back. I got to Stinson Beach early with hardly any sleep the night before. Tried to nap in the car, but of course I was already all wired and eager to get out there on the gorgeous trails. Watching the staggered wave starts were totally inspiring. The first few waves were women and men over 75 and some of them were just by themselves. From the cheers, it wasn’t exactly the first time they were running either.

Foggy Stinson Beach

Foggy Stinson Beach

Carol on the first Wave

Carol on the first Wave: Women 80+

Anitra starting second wave

Anitra starting second wave: Women 70-79

Joe starting third wave

Joe starting third wave: Men 80+

My pseudo goals were to do the two big climbs up to Cardiac in under 40 minutes and looks like I managed to pull that off in 36 minutes on the way in and 31 on the way back. The climb up Dipsea Trail in the foggy morning brought back all the goodness of why I started trail running in the first place. Nice thing about shorter runs like this is how you can redline and go anaerobic and not have to worry about it too much. There’s not much to save up for the second half. I was pushing up to Cardiac pretty hard.


Single Track Galore

Approaching Top of Cardiac

Approaching Top of Cardiac

Had a very brief stop at the Cardiac aid station to get some electrolytes and I was off again on the beautiful downhill towards Muir Woods. After the Miwok 100K mandatory cupless experience, I brought my Salomon Soft Cup with me this time (and going forward to all races). Dunno if it affects the top line, but felt good to do my part in reducing waste. Dipsea Trail weaves in and out of Deer Park Fire road and I briefly hopped on it to realize I was the only runner there. Cut back to the Dipsea Trail with quite a few “on your left” as I made great time.

Michael Stricklan passed me soon after the Muir Woods aid station and would go on to finish in 2:22. As I approached the legendary Dipsea Stairs, runners from the earlier start were starting to work their way back. I got a little flak from some one when I took a picture of the stairs going down, but hey I was moving!

Dipsea Stairs

Dipsea Stairs

Each stair had some inscription on it and the two that I vividly remember were “Dr. Elmo” and “Dig Deep”. And dig deep it was. Back bent, palms pushing down on the thighs and slowly made my way up the stairs. Couple of those long runs on the bleachers in the past week kinda sorta helped. Cruised down with more “on your left” to Muir Woods and began the hike up to Cardiac again. Everybody around me was walking. The sun briefly came out, but I was doing fine without carrying water. The aid stations were all close enough anyways. One last push and I made it to the top in 2:15. There was no way I could make a sub 2:30 by this time, but maybe a 2:40?

These were the stairs I first tasted flow during the last miles of Mt. Tam 50K last year and I was definitely hoping for some to navigate the treacherous stairs. My legs didn’t disappoint me. I was flying (well, it felt like anyways) down the stairs passing a few runners. Up the Insult Hill (I understand why it’s called that now) and I could see Stinson Beach now. Just kept pushing and dropped dead after the crossing the finish line in 2:38, 12th in age group and 95th overall. Thanks to John Smart for walking over to say hello with a glass of water. It was great to catch up with him.


The day after, quads are still sore from all of the climbing, but I’m one happy camper. Now about the quad dipsea. Are you telling me people do this once and then turn around to run this all over again? Nuts. But again…

Did you run the double dipsea? How was your experience?