The Double Dipsea

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This is no race. They might call it a “race” in some circles, but those who use that word are lying and are liars. Fact. The Double Dipsea is actually a running event for psychos and lunatics who feel that “average” races, marathons, triathlons, etc are for the weak and puny. This is a race to punish the participants, the harder the better.

But I didn’t start feeling this way until after the fact.

Up until Saturday at 8:48AM, I thought that the Double Dipsea was a race that Roy, my sister KK, who came from Texas, and I would do together as a way to train for something while we were apart and come together to be successful in our endeavors. Awwww, how sweet. But that was how it started. My sister and I wanted to do something that we could do as team members, and after we ran a 10K together, we searched for a second event that we could train and plan for. The most “Marin” thing we found was the Dipsea, a 7.1 mile run from Mill Valley into to Stinson Beach. I was still coming off my high from the Bay to Breakers, and didn’t see any harm in doing this well known race for sport and fun.

But it was filled. Not to be deterred for what seemed like an “awesome” plan, my sister and I decided to run the DOUBLE Dipsea, but just one way, and in our own sense, complete the race we had originally set out to run. We heard ghost stories through the running circles about the toughness of this race- the insanity that takes over people causing them to run down hazardous trails, run up the side of sheer cliffs, and do it all while not getting lost. I was not scared. I am an International Superhero, HOW HARD COULD THIS REALLY BE????

The morning of the “run”, (see, I cannot call it a race…) it was chilly as we waited for our start time at Stinson Beach.  I was cold, nervous, and excited. As I started to look around at my fellow runners, I noticed that they were not dressed as I. Tank tops, short shorts, trekking shoes, and all the water bottles possible that could be harnessed to a person. KK and I were wearing long running pants, long sleeved shirts, and I didn’t carry any water. Hummmm…..what were we missing?

The race takes off and you’re immediately running uphill. That is, until you hit the stairs. Now, naively enough, I knew that there would be the 671 stairs at the end of the race that was supposedly the scary, horrible, killers, but where were these stairs listed? More so, would there be more surprising stairways built out of the side of a mountain?

The answer was yes. About 2,000 more stairs than were listed on the race description.

People are taking off all around us and Roy, KK and I are just trying to get up the first .5 mile, which already had me worrying that we didn’t know what in the hell we were attempting. You disappear into the side of a mountain and try following few and far between pink ribbons to keep you on track and avoid venturing off from the trail. As each group of racers gets released at the starting line, suddenly and randomly you are engulfed in madness as the “young bucks” (as we nicknamed them) race all around attempting to get ahead of each other, and crushing all weaklings in their way. Actually, a lot of them ran by shouting “good job” and “keep it up”, which was really nice, since we didn’t know what the heck was happening, but we were happy that we were being cheered on.

There are some definite highlights and some definite LOW-LOWs in this journey. A couple highs (minus finishing!) were running through a redwood grove, just my sister and I, making no noise as we crossed through the hundreds of towering trees as our steps were silenced by the fallen bark, and the fog created a wet, wonderland of hushed tones and magical views. Another plus was running, again all alone, across the crest of Cardiac Hill, with the bay down the sharp cliff to our left, and the wind blowing the tall yellow grass along our right. That might have been the only “straightaway” that we had the entire run, and I sure as hell appreciated it.

The hard parts were especially hard. At one point, I launched myself out of the trail onto the main road, where cars were still racing down the mountain into Stinson beach, and the runners had to run uphill around cars and other runners, on the steepest grade you can imagine. At one point, I passed a hardcore looking speed-racer who was literally puking his guts out. And all I could say, “—are—-you—–o—–k—–?”, gasping for air. He held up a thumb and I could only keep going. When I found the trail head again, I was confronted with another steep set of 200+ stairs, and almost lost my mind. I started yelling, “JUST FINISH, EAT BACON! JUST FINISH, EAT BACON”. A runner coming the opposite way yelled, “Yah! Bacon!” and we continued in opposite directions. Seeing people running with blood running down their heads, arms, knees, hands, some people covered head to toe in mud, was also creepy. I knew that losing my footing was going to result in an accident big time, but these runners just obviously fell and got right back up to race.

Crazy, crazy people.

In the end, Roy, KK and I all finished (LAST!) together, shaking and weakly holding on to each other in amazement that we had made it. Apparently 30+ runners didn’t get to that half way point, so we really weren’t last last, I guess, but it didn’t matter. We knew what we had achieved and how hard it had been, and for that, we were grateful for just surviving. I could not have been MORE proud of our efforts.

So, here’s to not walking for a couple of days, and thankful that we now know, with true personal experience, that this is one race that we will NEVER, EVER RUN AGAIN. Hu-Rah!

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