Eddie Owens felt a moment of crowning glory as he sped downhill toward the ocean, while some runners behind him just felt … the pain of insult and injury.
“It felt like a coronation,” said Owens, the winner of Sunday’s 111th Dipsea Race. “When I reached the top, I knew I had the pace and the momentum. I just kept ticking people off the list as I passed them on the downhill. I made the last pass on Insult (Hill) and I knew I had it.”
Second-place finisher Paddy O’Leary was a little frustrated by the thick fog and light drizzle that dampened the race.
“I was hoping for more miserable weather. I’m Irish and that’s what I’m used to,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary managed to pass most of the field by the time he got through Cardiac, but there was still one figure ahead of him. Owens was just too far out front at that point for anyone to catch him.
Owens, who had a one-minute handicap, kept his lead through the descent toward the finish line at Stinson Beach to finish with a clock time of one hour, 12 minutes, 35 seconds after the first group of runners left Mill Valley for the victory .
Owens, who lives in San Francisco, posted an actual time of 48:35, given that he started 24 minutes after the first group took off. O’Leary crossed the finish just over a minute later with a clock time 1:13.52.
“My only previous experience with the Dipsea was last year, and I didn’t realize it was a diminished field then,” said Owens, who finished fourth in the 2021 race, which was postponed until November by the COVID pandemic. “This year, it was a lot harder to pass people, especially on the stairs. It felt like I was fighting and swimming through people.”
In his post-race speech during the awards ceremony, Owens apologized to all those people he “might have bodied out of the way.”
Women made a strong showing, with Clara Peterson third at 1:14.45; Stephanie Howe fourth at 1:14.59; Fiona Lyon fifth at 1:15.03; and Chris Lundy sixth at 1:15.16.
Dominic Vogl finished seventh at 1:15.36, narrowly ahead of defending champion Mark Tatum (eighth, 1:15.38), Joannie Siegler (ninth, 1:15.54) and Alex Varner (10th, 1:15.58).
Only about seven minutes and five seconds separated the top 35 finishers, who each were presented with their coveted black shirts during the post-race awards ceremony.
Diana Fitzpatrick, who was close behind Siegler most of the race, finished 11th at 9:16.30. She has won 19 black shirts, tying the women’s record.
“This was some serious competition,” said Peterson, who last ran the Dipsea in 2019. “Howe and Lyon passed me on all the downhills, but I passed them on the uphills. I’m stronger on the climb rather than the downhills. The fact that there were no shortcuts probably helped me, too.”
The traditional trail from White Gate/White Barn to Panoramic Highway was closed to runners this year. Runners were directed to the official Dipsea Trail over the Moors toward Stinson Beach.
“I knew Clara would have an amazing race,” said Lundy, who had been training with Peterson. “I knew she’d be right there with me, and she passed me on Cardiac, then finished strong.”
Lundy, a winner in 2018, said she was glad to see the race return to its traditional date on the second Sunday of June, despite the fact runners didn’t have much time to recover after November’s race and prepare for this year’s event.
“I like the history and the sense of community that the Dipsea holds,” Lundy said. “Something that has been held for so long, it becomes more important and that keeps me coming back.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen four women finish in the top six overall,” she said. “It was exciting to see the women running through the Moors, and they passed me and I passed some others.”
Lundy finished fourth in 2019 and eighth in 2021. Her finish Sunday was all the more impressive given her recovery from a foot injury last month. The effects of the injury slowed her pace on the stairs a bit, but she made up for it on the downhills.
The field saw several previous runners, and a few relative newcomers, such as Owens.
Owens moved to the Bay Area only a few years ago, but when he heard about the Dipsea, he decided to track down Barry Spitz, who is — literally — the author of the history of the race.
“I picked his brain a bit and I ran the course a bit,” Owens said. “I’m a student of racing and I really wanted to learn about the race.”
For his part, Spitz said he recalled Owens coming to his door ready to add his name to the list of winners.
“I’m honored to have run the race and to win,” Owens said. “I’ll be a scratch runner next year, I guess, but my goal is going to be to win the dipsea from the scratch position.”
Owens will continue his budding rivalry with O’Leary on Friday with the Broken Arrow Skyrace in Squaw Valley.
“Owens ran a stellar race,” said O’Leary, who had been racing in Europe during the weeks leading up to the Dipsea. “I hate to say it, but no one was going to catch him. I was passing people, but near the end, I just had to hold on and finish strong.”