The 7.5-mile course of the iconic Dipsea Race features sections named Insult Hill, Windy Gap, Cardiac, Suicide, and Dynamite, a reminder that there’s virtually no respite in America’s oldest trail race.

But while every section of the race is daunting, none can match the sheer spectacle of the 680 Dipsea Steps, one of Mill Valley’s greatest landmarks and the launch pad for hundreds of hikes, walks, races and jaunts from downtown to Mount Tam.

Over the past nine years, the 19-year-old Dipsea Race Foundation has sought to renovate those legendary steps, one flight at a time, as part of its mission ”to inspire our community and beyond to support the tradition of the Dipsea Race, the maintenance of the Dipsea Trail, and the legacy for current and future generations.”

They started with the third and top flight of 151 steps, and in 2011, finished the first and longest flight of approximately 300 steps from Cascade Way to Millside Lane. Each of those campaigns were driven by sponsors who sought to honor and memorialize friends and family with plaques on stairs. Now, with the Dipsea Race Foundation looking to finish the renovation by focusing on the second flight of approximately 200 stairs, foundation officials are seeking sponsors to reserve a step with a personalized plaque. The plaques require a minimum deposit of $500 as part of a tax-deductible donation of $1,700.

“We’re thrilled at the support we’ve received to date on the renovations of the first two flights, and we’re excited to finish this work to ensure that future generations of runners and hikers can safely ascend and descend the stairs along the Dipsea Trail,” says Foundation Board Chair Mervyn Regan.

Along with the Dipsea Steps Renovation, the Foundation also operates two programs focused on the next generation: the Dipsea Kidz youth development program, which serves at-risk kids in Marin County through a structured, twice-weekly after school physical fitness, mentoring, nutritional and educational program, as well as the Dipsea scholarships, doled out to “outstanding young men and women who have participated in the Dipsea Race, are residents of California, and are graduating high school seniors.”

The 411: Go here if you’re interested in becoming a Dipsea Steps Renovation Project sponsor. You can email or mail a check to Dipsea Race Foundation, P.O. Box 10, Mill Valley, CA 94942. MORE INFO.

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