Friday 5 December 2014

Quad Dipsea

Marathon #75  and Ultra #4 Quad Dipsea  (28.4 miles) nr San Francisco with 9200ft of climb


9200 ft of climb

This was on my bucket list since I started running and never in a million years did I think that I would ever make the startline never mind finish. It was definitely the hardest thing that I have ever done.

Mill Valley to Stinson Beach
The Dispea trail itself is one of the oldest, if not the oldest trail in the US with handicap races happening on it since the 1930's. It is a 7.1 mile trail from Mill valley in Marin over several significant climbs via the national monument Muir Woods to Stinson beach. This 7.1m leg has approx 2500ft of climb.

For the Quad Dipsea you run the Dipsea trail twice the normal way and twice in reverse for a total of 28.4 miles.

I was lucky enough in 2004 to run the annual handicap race and at that time I was running 45 min 10K's and
well marked.
did a 1hr 20 on this course.

My strategy today was to hike the uphill and run the downhill with a plan for 1:30, 1:40, 1:50 and 2hrs splits.  There were 2hr, 4hr, 6:15hr and 8:30hr hard cut offs on the run.

300 were signed up and 271 started. There was an attrition rate of 10% with only 90% finishing which was normal enough for this race.

687 steps
The weather forecast was awful and given that in the 30 years of running this race it had only rained 4 times this was not good. The night before around 4 inches of rain fell which really muddied up some of the steep parts (particularly bad for the descents). I choose to run in road shoes. Trail would have been a better choice.

We started at 9am and within 100 yards we hit the 687 steps for the
Weather was not good
first time. The field was bunched so you had to walk them, there was no choice. This brought us high above Mill Valley and we kept climbing up through some houses and a ranch. So far so good. The trail then plunges steeply for another mile into the Muir Woods which a national monument full of the massive Red Wood Sequoia trees. As soon as we entered the woods we then followed the long (several miles) steep up hill section called Dynamite. This was steep , slippy and very technical. It was hike-able at best and went up and up and up and up.  Eventually we crested at a section of the trail called Cardiac
best part of the trail
where the first aid station was. This was at the highest part of the course and was a relief every time to get to it. The cloud hadnt lifted and we ran in dark, cold and dank conditions through most of this. From what I remember the views were nice if there was no cloud.

From Cardiac we ran on a nice bit of trail along a section called the hogs back before entering the tree line at the rain forest. This was wet and muddy and at times very steep down. There were trip hazards everywhere. This led quickly to Steep Ravine which had numerous carved steep steps which were slippy and dangerous. After safely navigating these the trail opened out with one last steep uphill section for 400m called insult before a quick desecent down to the turn around point at Stinson beach and the second aid station. I came in on the first leg at 1:41 some 11 minutes down on plan but still 19 minutes ahead of the cut off.

The return leg was tough with Steep Ravine steps in reverse and the climb back to Cardiac being long and
tiring. I eventually made my way back to Mill Valley in 1:55. I was now 26 minutes down but 24 minutes ahead of the cut off. It was great to see the race unfold as you passed the leaders and indeed everyone on each leg. The trail slowly deteriorated throughout the day and the whole thing got tougher and tougher.

John and I just finished
I came through the third leg in 2:07 and the fourth in 2:10 for a total of 7:55 , well under the 8:30 cut off and delighted to have finished the hardest thing that I have ever done. The DOMS kicked in almost immediately and I couldnt walk right until the following Thursday. I dont normally suffer from DOMS at all. That was a shock.

I received my MCI 75 medal from John Catts the RD and am looking
75 MCI medal
forward now to the next 25.

Amazingly my Garmin lasted the whole day but seemed to measure the course quite a bit short which it wasn't. In fact there seems to be a lot wrong with the Garmin stats but its a record.

Video of 1/4 of the race and no short cuts allowed. Reverse and then do it again

Garmin stats

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