By the last mile, he had only one more person to catch: Lundy, a local veterinarian and an accomplished national trail runner. In 2017, she had an 11-minute head start on Varner and beat him to the finish by 20 seconds. This time, she had a 10-minute head start.
She, too, had passed hundreds by the time she topped out at Cardiac, where the Pacific Ocean comes into view. When she slid past 60-year-old Diana Fitzpatrick, a former champion, on the spiraling steps into Steep Ravine, about six miles in, she figured she must be in the lead.
“But I knew Alex was closing in,” she said later.
Varner ran out of time and space again. Despite one of his fastest times ever, 48:51, and the race’s overall fastest time for the eighth time, he finished in second, again, this time 15 seconds behind Lundy.
“I was closer than I was last year, but she’s such a strong runner,” Varner said. “I ran what I hoped to run. No complaints.”
Nine of the top 11 came from different start groups. Winners of the 35 black shirts included three teenagers and seven runners in their 60s. Their median age was 53. The top scratch runner finished 30th.
“I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I might have to wait 10, 20 years before I win,” Varner said. “It’s the way the race is designed. They did it because they want to give everybody a shot, and if you look at the results, it works out remarkably well. It’s hard to argue with.”
I finished 580th. By my calculations, analyzing the final results, I was passed by 247 people.
The good news is that I passed 39. And in another two years, if I get the urge to do the Dipsea again, I will gain another minute of a head start.