Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Whose Bloody NETT Shirt from the Dipsea Trail Race?

Yup, one NETTer recently ran the legendary Dipsea Trail Race for the umpteenth time. Any guesses who?

It was our own Patrick McVeigh. The NETT news crew got a chance to ask Patrick about his experience at Dipsea this year and here's the interview.

How many times have you run it? When was the first time?

I think I have run it about 15-20 times. The first time was when I was in high school. I grew up in San Francisco. Showing my age, my first race was probably about 1973. It was a kinder, gentler race back then. Not as many people ran it and not as many runners had quite the ego trip they do now (lots more pushing by fast runners to get by slow runners now....but maybe I used to be one of the fast runners pushing their way through and now am one of the slow runners getting pushed out of the way.)
It's a handicap race so where do you start relative to others?
 This year I got a 10 minute head start. 57 year old men start with 41-43 year old women and 15 year old girls. Next year I get an extra minute head start. The biggest head start (25 minutes) is for boys 6 and under, men 74 and over, girls 7 and under, and women 66 and over. The winner of this year's year was a 55 year old woman, Diana Fitzpatrick, who had a 16 minute head start. (Quite a runner, she also has qualified for 3 Olympic marathon trials.)
The beauty of the Dipsea is that everyone believes they have a chance to win. And if you don't win this year, you always think that extra minute head start is going to let you win next year. I don't know why more races aren't done on a handicapped basis.
So how would you characterize your race this year?
 I ran 1:08:34 which was reduced to 58:34 with the 10-minute handicap. I came in 103rd this year (out of 1,500) which was my best finish since 1999. It was my best handicapped-adjusted time since 1999 and my best scratch time since 2001. The race is about 7.4 miles which usually feels like about 5 miles straight up, 1 mile relatively flat along the hilltop and then 1 mile straight down. 
The Dipsea is the second oldest race in the country and really is the all-star game for California trail runners. Competition is stiff and bragging rights are all important. The fact that a 60 year old can beat the hot shot 30 year old and hold that over him/her for a year, makes the race pretty intense. So while the course is probably the most beautiful run I have done, it also is maybe the most intense. Runners get crazy on the steep downhill. As I have gotten older, I certainly have lost some of the crazy instinct. 

Where did that blood come from?
 As anyone who has run in the Lincoln Woods with me probably knows, I tend to trip over rocks more often than most. During the Dipsea I knocked myself over twice by running into  tree branches and also sliced my thumb when I fell after tripping over a rock. It had rained that morning and the downhill section of the course was pretty muddy and slick. 
Will you be back to it again?
 I say I will keep doing the race until my sons Finn (7) and Gus (4) are old enough to do it with me. Then I will probably slow down and do it with them. There is a famous quote by Jack Kirk, who was known as the Dipsea Demon. He ran the race until he was in his 90s and died at the age of 100. He said, "Old Dipsea runners never die, they just reach the 672nd step." This alludes to the fact that about a half-mile into the race, you run up three flights of stairs with 671 steps. The 672nd step is, I hope, heaven, though I do fall a lot. So I will probably keep doing it until I can't. Certain races get in your blood. Running the Dipsea will always remind me that I grew up running in the San Francisco Bay Area and includes many of my favorite things....running in the hills, running among the redwoods and running with the smells and views of the ocean. I have told Julie to bury some of my ashes on the course, though if I hit too many more trees, all of me might remain out there. 
What advice do you for others considering doing the Dipsea?

If you want to do the Dipsea, be patient. It is hard for outsiders to get in. Continuing runners are selected by finishing in a certain position, new applicants are mostly chosen on a first-come, first-served basis which favors those who live near the race as snail mail from the East Coast will never get there in time. Your only chance for running is to apply and hope you are one of the few chosen in a lottery. If you get in, you run in the Runner's Division, which starts after the Invitational Division. You have to earn your way into the Invitational Section with a good showing. Either is fun, though, and gives you the spirit of the Dipsea, which for me really comes in watching the start of the race when the little kids head off with the 'oldsters' in the first wave of runners. 
Other advice? Practice running stairs. I think I have become semi-famous with the T-employees at the Porter Square T station for running intervals up the flight of stairs there. they are the longest, steepest stairs I can find in the Boston area. For some reason, they find it amusing when I run 10-15 intervals of the stairs. 
Final advice. Run hard so you will be able to eat a lot. I am happy to share my favorite refueling stations for both before and after the race.

1 comment:

Karyn said...

Go Patrick! Nice job! I like the in-depth interview.