The man on many people's short list of possible winners of the 102nd Dipsea Race came through Sunday, as 72-year-old Hans Schmid of Greenbrae won the inimitable 7.4-mile footrace between Mill Valley and Stinson Beach and became its oldest winner ever.
Schmid finished in a time of 47 minutes and 11 seconds. Under the Dipsea's handcapping system, Schmid had a 23-minute headstart. Schmid bested 41-year-old Chris Lundy of Sausalito, who finished second, by 27 seconds. Larkspur resident Diana Fitzpatrick, 54, came in third.
Alex Varner of San Rafael recorded the day's fastest time once again and finished fourth overall. He became the first runner in Dipsea history to win the best time award for the fourth consecutive year.
"I'm still a little bit in awe of it all," Schmid said of the victory. "I always expect the young kids to start passing me towards the end. But I really pushed it on the downhill and was able to hold everyone off. I felt really good."
Schmid, who didn’t start running competitively until he ran a5-kilometer race along Lake Michigan in Chicago at the age of 63, won despite scorching temperatures out on the course.
"I thought the heat was going to be an advantage going in because it usually doesn't bother me," Schmid said.
Schmid, who , ran 46 seconds faster this year and helped his club team, the Tamalpa Runners, win the Team Trophy for the 34th time in the last 35 years. Schmid warded off a strong effort by Lundy, who clocked the fastest time (57:38) by a female in the field.
“I tried to catch him all the way down from Cardiac (the highest point on the course at 1,300feet above sea level),” Lundy said. “It shows what a great race Hans ran today.”
Rivers, 61, of Mill Valley placed 10th, while 11-year-old Tam Valley resident Julian Lepelch took 15th place and, with his 49-year-old father Patrick who finished 26th, claimed the Alan Beardall Family Trophy. They also received black numbered T-shirts for finishing in the top 35.
Schmid said he was thrilled to join a storied list of Dipsea Race champions.
"It's quite an honor to join the list of legends who have won this race," he said. "It shows that us old guys still have something left."