Originally published in the April 2004 newsletter by Ted Vincent.
Way back in 1966 when our club was founded, the only events we sponsored were called “fun runs” and most were only two miles. We couldn’t have races because we had both men and women, and the official organization for “races” in those days said women could not compete. This official organization – the Amateur Athletic Union – also hassled the men, requiring them to show a doctor’s certificate in order to compete in distance races. Even Bay to Breakers runners had to have permission from the doc.
In the manner that Rome wasn’t built in a day, the DSE took its time getting on the race map. In 1972 for instance, we only put on a couple of races a month. The DSE newsletter printed results from other races on those weekends the club didn’t have a race. So, back on August 6, 1972, we see 33 club members names and finishing times for the “First Annual Funky Street Boy’s Club 7 Miler”. And in 1974 the newsletter listed 9 DSE members in the “First Annual Dog Food Run”. Ah, in the good ole days when hardly a week went by without at least one “First Annual”. The 70’s for the DSE were also a time of “Practice” runs, which included the Practice Bay to Breakers and the Practice Dipsea. Then, in the mid decade, we got two Bay to Breakers practices and two Dipsea Practice runs.
Back then, the DSE schedule included the still popular Kennedy Drive 4.7 miler (now an 8K), the Stow Lake Mens & Womens Relay (still existing as the Christmas Blind Date Relays), and the Lake Merced runs held twice a year (which then measured 5 miles and now 4.463). Other runs included the Golden Gate Promenade (now Fort Point Promenade) which then measured 7/5 and now 7.1 miles, the Legion of Honor Run, the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Run, the Mount Davidson “Hill Climb” (now retired), the Twin Peaks Run, and the Ferry Building Run (recently expanded to 4 miles from 3.83). Last was that tough run from near Jim Skophammer’s house, the Daly City Hill Climb, now called Daly City Scenic Run, which tried to fool those who haven’t tried this paved version of Cardiac Hill.
A couple of old favorites that have since bit the dust includes our “DSE Low Tide Run” at Ocean Beach. Trouble with this run was that nobody ever checked the tide tables before putting it on the schedule. A number of years the race was a trudge through deep sand, which someone compared to Napoleon’s army slogging through the snow from Moscow. Another “oldie but goodie” was the Nob Hill Run. Straight up the Hyde Street cable car tracks, up, up, up, turn around and fly downhill through intersection after intersection, through the red light or green, while cable car riders screamed in horror at the running maniacs. A companion race to the top of Nob Hill of three decades ago is the Coit Tower Run (now also retired).
An old, retired favorite missed by many DSEers is the Golden Gate Bridge run. It was so popular that for much of the 1970’s we ran it twice a year. Of course, those were freer times (we are now required to pay thousands of dollars in insurance to have an official race across the bridge and therefore the annual “Hangover Run” on New Year’s Day is a designated fun run so that we can still run across the bridge).
Among the oddities from our early years is the Polo Fields Loop listed as a 4 miler, and the Double Polo Fields Loop called an 8 miler. Were these courses actually the present 3.1 and 6.2 mile races? If so, whoever did the old measurements gets the prize for the most notorious of our notoriously off-measured courses.
In both the 70’s and the 90’s, the club had an occasional Special Event, including the Womens 100 Mile Relay. That is, 100 DSE women met at the San Francisco State University track and each ran a mile to attempt to set a world record.
Well, that about rounds out all those runs of old that brought us to where we are today and will take us into the future.