The annual Dipsea race from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach is the oldest cross-country race in the United States. It started in 1905 as a more formal challenge based on an outing by members of San Francisco's Olympic Club in 1904. The end of the original race was at the long-disappeared Dipsea Inn in Stinson Beach, which gave the trail and race its name.
The race is held each year the second Sunday in June. The 2010 Dipsea will be held Sunday, June 13.
The racers start in downtown Mill Valley, running down Throckmorton and through Old Mill Park before they have to survive the 672 wooden steps that lead up from Mill Valley onto the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais. Just think of running up the stairs of a fifty-story building and you get the idea. They'll pass through Muir Woods en route to the western slopes of the mountain and the descent into Stinson Beach.
Along the way they'll pass colorful places named "Windy Gap", "Dynamite", "Cardiac", the "Swoop", "Steep Ravine", "Insult Hill" and "The Moors." I have hiked the route rather than run it, and apart from consulting the Constitution's ban on torture going up the Dipsea stairs (this is why they print pocket versions of the Constitution) it was a long and arduous trek. I tip my cap to the people who run it and seem to do so easily.
If you're not from the local area, this has been a huge local event for generations, with the winner's photo and the story running on the front page of the County's major newspaper.
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