I knew I was taking a big risk by showing up this morning. I was notoriously under train having just resumed running after yet another break, right with a race on Thursday, a solid 36:10 10K at the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. The soreness in my legs afterwards was attenuated with a 9-mile training run this Friday, yet my legs still felt tired when I woke up at 4:30 this morning. However, I didn't feel it was a good reason not to honor my registration. Nor was the fact that I already won my age group PAUSATF MUT Grand Prix for the 10th consecutive year. Indeed my main goal today was to avoid getting a DNS (Did Not Start) this year. After last March stroke and a combination of minor injuries and bad stress at work, I had to pass on a few races and championships I had in mind at the beginning of the year but at least I have been lucky enough to be able to start all the races I was in, even if that triggered a few DNFs (Miwok, TRT). The other risk which I knew about getting to the start was that it was going to be rainy and that's definitely the weather I like to race in. That was my 5th Quad Dipsea and I have been quite lucky so far with the weather: I wasn't blogging in 2006 but Agnès' pictures show a perfectly clear blue sky (my finish time was 4:20:52). In 2008 (We all did it!), the conditions were also perfect when Erik Skaggs improved the course record and I PRed with 4:19:19. In 2009 (Chasing too many turkeys), the course was still in great conditions but I had run 2 Turkey Trots prior to the race and had a bad fall which slowed me down a bit (4:25:32). However, in 2014 (No fall, almost...), the trail got very slippery and everybody ran slower, even Chikara Omine (4:12) and Dave Mackey. I clocked my worse time at Quad Dipsea, 4:38:31.
I carpooled with Jeremy Johnson and Kent (Bull) Dozier to the start and we got a great parking spot thanks to the early arrival (~6:40). The bib desk crew was composed of 3 eminent ultra personalities: the founder and Race Director of the first 30 years, John (Tropical) Medinger, his wife Lisa Henson, and the omnipresent ultra volunteer, Stan Jensen.
At the Mill Valley turnaround, I lost a few seconds trying to untie the jacket I had put around my waist. I was convinced that we had seen all the rain for the morning, don't ask me to predict the weather in Marin County...
I had a strong start of the third leg and was in good spirit at Windy Gap, passing by Willem van Dam who got this shot (Willem spent many hours at this road crossing, and Christine Chapon at the next one. An opportunity to remind all of us/you that Christine is still looking for volunteers for next week's North Face weekend in Marin Headlands).
However, I fell apart in the super muddy and slippery climb to Cardiac, both literally and mentally. I lost so much time and energy there that I started forming the thought of dropping at Stinson, not good... You cannot be ever proud of dropping but I must say I felt good to be in a car when the rain started pouring for the next 30 minutes or so. Without my jacket, I would have been miserable, like at Miwok in May. Moreover, I did not want to get back down Dynamite and risk another fall, it wasn't worth it. But the main reason I dropped is that today's experience and performance were way too far from the previous ones I had here and great memories of clocking legs around 60-65 minutes. Today my splits were 1:11:01, 1:13:52 and 1:23:07, I felt way to slow to be worth a Dipsea finish... But at least, with a Tri Dipsea, I got a good hilly training run and saw and met many familiar faces which definitely made the trip up to Marin County worth it! Special thanks to Eric and David from Sebastopol who drove me back to the start after their aid station shift at Stinson. And to Errol (Rocket) Jones for making me smile just before I decided to drop, you can't resist Rocket's jovial enthusiasm! ;-)
Favorite David Roche remained in control of the race throughout the morning and won this year's edition in 4:11:32 (Buzzword Productions did a great job of posting preliminary results and splits promptly on Saturday evening. And I didn't contact them already to let them know that I didn't run the 4th leg as opposed to what's in these initial results). Quite a performance in these conditions, I'm sure he'll be back to get closer to Alex's record on a dry course. The thing to note about David is how many "You are amazing" encouragements he must have mentioned to runners today, probably a few hundreds!
By the way, speaking of amazing, it appears that the M50-59 age group record has been busted by 2nd place finisher, Darrin Banks. The previous record, 4:28:23, was set by Alfred Bogenhuber and did stand for 25 years! Darrin's time in today's poor conditions was a blazing 4:21:16. WOW!!
Before leaving, it was fun to watch Jamil Coury and Schuyler Hall live recording their next clip which I look forward to watching.
If you haven't seem some of their videos, check this one for instance (no rating, but some graphic content... ;-):
San Francisco Running Company (SFRC), after contemplating a sharp and full double rainbow captured by Kent from the car. Big thanks to SFRC for all the support they provide to our local races and community, and, Jorge, good luck for North Face 50 next week!
Again, back to the audacious or provocative title, of course Quad Dipsea is super worth it! Amazing experience to run and race on the legendary Dipsea trail, great athletic challenge despite the short ultra distance (28 miles), outstanding organization, super experienced volunteers, many if not most being ultra runners themselves. Great show from the local Tamalpa Running Club, both among these volunteers and on the course too. This race is so well organized that its Race Director, John Catts, was even able to run it! It was also cool to see Craig Thornley, Western States Race Director running with the bib #1. As well as Steve Jaber celebrating his birthday by running Quad Dipsea in such great spirit.
Finally, after 4 years of serious drought, we certainly can't complain about a bit of rain which is much needed! So running Quad Dispea this year was definitely worth it again, quite a few actually PR'ed today (yes, Nakia and Loren!)! As for me, I just need to keep sorting things out in my mind and body...