Scenes from the Dipsea Race and Dipsea Hike for Zero Breast Cancer and the Dipsea Stairs. Courtesy images.

Over the past 11 years, the leaders of the 21-year-old Dipsea Race Foundation have gotten firsthand knowledge about renovations often taking longer than expected.

In 2007, the organization embarked on a plan to renovate the 680 Dipsea Steps, which rise from near Old Mill Park to Sequoia Valley Road at Edgewood Avenue and serve as the most daunting part of America’s oldest trail race, the legendary Dipsea Race. The stairs are also a launch pad for hundreds of hikes, walks, races and jaunts from downtown to Mount Tam each week.

On Saturday, October 20, foundation officials, Dipsea Race standouts and City of Mill Valley officials will gather for a dedication ceremony at the base of the second flight of approximately 200 stairs that were just completed, marking the completion of the three-phase project that required a number of creative fundraising drives.

“It’s been a long journey, but we’re thrilled at the support we’ve received on the renovations of these iconic stairs, 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.

The City of Mill Valley owns the stairs, but foundation officials had seen them fall into disrepair over the years and sought to ensure the safety of Dipsea Race participants and all users, Regan says.

The project started in 2007 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. 

Along with the Dipsea Steps Renovation, the foundation, whose mission is ”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,” 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: The  Dipsea Race Foundation and the City of Mill Valley host a dedication ceremony on Saturday, October 20 at 10am to mark the completed renovation of the Dipsea Stairs. The ceremony takes place at 284 Molino Avenue, near the base of the second flight of stairs. The next Dipsea Race is on June 9. MORE INFO.

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