61-Year-Old Runner Wins the Dipsea, America’s Oldest Trail Race

Approaching Stinson Beach along Dipsea trail

The Dipsea Race from the town of Mill Valley, California, over redwood-forested hills and steep peaks down to Stinson Beach, California, on the coast 7.5 miles away has been held nearly every year since 1905. It’s the oldest continually held trail race in the country. In 1904, a couple guys were in Mill Valley boasting that they could beat the other to Stinson Beach. They raced. The next year, 90 people showed up to test themselves too. Now, 1,500 people enter each year.

The race follows the Dipsea trail, climbing up from Mill Valley, occasionally over punishing flights of stairs, peaking at Cardiac Hill, 1,360 feet in elevation, before dropping steeply to the coast. It’s a breathtaking trail, through endless redwood groves, crossing crystal clear streams burbling past lush ferns, breaking out of the trees with sweeping views of the Marin Headlands reaching for the Golden Gate.

Because of a unique handicapping system, winners can come from any age group. Kids as young as 8 have won the race, as have adult runners as old as 72. The young and the old get head starts over the elite runners. Sanctioned shortcuts are allowed too, though they’re gruelingly steep, if a runner wants to try ’em.

This year, 61-year-old Mark Tatum of Colorado Springs took home first place, with a time of 59 minutes, 24 seconds. Eddie Owens, of nearby Larkspur set the fastest time with his run of 47:48, while Chris Lundy, of Mill Valley, had the fastest women’s time at 1:01.25.

You can read more about the race here.

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