First run in 1905, the Dipsea is the oldest trail race in America. It is run every year on the second Sunday in June. The scenic 7.4 mile course from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach is considered to be one of the most beautiful courses in the world.
The stairs and steep trails make it a grueling and treacherous race. And its unique handicapping system has made winners of men and women of all ages. Because of its beauty and challenge, it is a very popular event, and because of safety and environmental concerns the number of runners is limited to about 1,500.
While racers enter from all over the world, the Dipsea is primarily a Northern California event and the entry process is tilted slightly to favor local contestants.
The Dipsea Race Course
It begins in downtown Mill Valley with a sprint down Throckmorton to the Old Mill Park, then up three flights of stairs as tall as a fifty-story building, and up some more through an old horse ranch to Windy Gap. Then it plunges down into Muir Woods across Redwood Creek and begins a tough grind up through the trees over trails named "Dynamite" and "Cardiac." At the top of Cardiac, the course levels out before it plunges down through the "Swoop", over the rocks and roots of "Steep Ravine" and the discouragingly steep climb up "Insult Hill." Finally, as the course follows the relatively gentle slope of The Moors toward the ocean, Stinson Beach is in sight a mile ahead. This is where experienced racers resort to secret short cuts and where others racers will sprint the last quarter mile in an effort to move up a couple of places in the final results.