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Inspired by Kiernan, NYC's Reid Fired up for Dipsea Race

The Central Park runner in the Dipsea t-shirt returns to California this week to catch up with icon Russ Kiernan ... and to add to his collection of universally popular running gear.

When Dan Reid runs the Dipsea Race for the 11th time Sunday, he’ll very much be looking forward to the finish.

No, the native San Franciscan isn’t expecting to win the race.

He just can’t wait to see the color of this year’s Dipsea t-shirt.

“That’s one of the first things I do at the finish line, look over to the t-shirt table to see what color they are,” said the 32-year-old who now lives in New York City. “I still have all 10 Dipsea shirts. They are getting very worn.

“One was a baby-blue color. My wife makes run of me when I wear it.”

Hundreds of others have had a different reaction, Reid says.

“New York has this great organization, the New York Road Runners. I’ve probably done 40 New York Road Runners racers,” noted Reid, who moved to New York shortly after graduating from USF’s law school in 2007.

“If I’m wearing my Dipsea shirt, at least half the time someone recognizes my shirt. They’ll say, ‘Oh, wow, is that the crazy trail I read about? I’d love to go out there and run it sometime.’

“A Dipsea Survivor t-shirt is just about the ultimate conversation-starter.”

Reid, a graduate of St. Ignatius High in San Francisco who competed on the University of Oregon’s track team as, of all things, a pole vaulter, was introduced to the Dipsea by one of the race’s most decorated entrants – Mill Valley's Russ Kiernan.

“When I was growing up, my family spent a lot of time hiking on the mountain,” Reid said of Mt. Tamalpais. “My dad’s first cousin, Russ, leading up to June was always crazily training for this race that we’d read about, and he was doing quite well.

“Eventually, I wanted to try the race.”

And that he did in 2001. Ten years and one cross-country move later, Reid still makes the race a go-to destination every June.

“The Dipsea, once you do it once, there’s an addiction,” he explained. “I tell people it’s my new Christmas -- something I look forward to doing every year.”

Reid looks forward to racing against Kiernan on Sunday, even if he might never see him. As a 73-year-old, Kiernan will start well before Reid, who will compete near the back in the “Runners” section.

“That’s the big joke among the ‘Runners’ section: By the time we start the race, it might already be over,” he said.

“My experience with Russ is different. People say, ‘Whoa, you know Russ Kiernan?’ I’ve known Russ my entire life -- as much from holidays and going over the Kiernan house as his other persona as Dipsea god.

“I used to do a bunch of races. Russ would be out at a bunch of them and he would always beat me. I’d always say: No big deal, he trains all the time.”

The first time he ran the Dipsea, Reid found himself alongside Kiernan’s nephew Chris. Last year, he ran into another old friend, the niece (Kendall) of longtime Marin Catholic High principal Don Ritchie, and they had a nice conversation over the 7.5-mile route.

He doesn’t know who he’ll see on the course Sunday, but he's pretty sure someone will aid in his enjoyment of the event.

“When you start so late, the race has a different feeling,” he said. “There’s a real sense of camaraderie. You’re running, but you’re really hanging out.”

One other thing Reid is looking forward to upon touching down in the Bay Area on Friday: the weather.

“It’s 96 degrees here (in New York City) today,” he noted. “Whenever my wife and I come out in California, all we’re looking for is the average temperature. There’s no ‘average’ in New York. It’s easy blazing hot or freezing cold.”

Either way, it’s always easy to spot Reid in Central Park. No matter the temperature, just look for the guy in the Dipsea t-shirt.

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