It’s never too late to start running. Hans Schmid, 72, proved it Sunday when he won the 102nd Dipsea Race, held just outside of San Francisco. Schmid, who only started running at 63, became the oldest winner of the oldest trail race in the country.
The historic Dipsea has a unique graded handicap system, which is based on the age and gender of each runner. This allows for the very old and the rather young to start as much as 25 minutes ahead of the “scratch” group (men, aged 19 to 30). Another unique facet of the race is that runners can choose alternative routes over a warren of trails (the Dipsea Trail is most direct), lending competitive advantage to those familiar with the course and the, ahem, experienced. Schmid, who began the race with the third wave of athletes, bested the field of 1,500 runners with a time of 1:10:10. On the 7.4-mile course from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, he was closely followed by 41-year-old Chris Lundy (27 seconds behind) and Diana Fitzpatrick (1:22 back).
“I chased Hans all the way from the top of Cardiac to the finish, and couldn’t catch him,” said Lundy, who ran the fastest women’s time, in 57:37.
The top 35 finishers received the fabled black Dipsea shirt with their finishing number on it.
“This is one for the old guys,” said Schmid, following the race.