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Longtime Dipsea Race Runner Hirabayashi Dies at 84

Mill Valley resident, who was married to fellow Dipsea vet Eve Pell, was the leader of the Tamalpa Runners Mens Vets Racing Team.

My friend Sam Hirabayashi, a longtime participant in the , passed away on Friday from complications from cancer. He was 84.

Sam had many friends and was in frequent contact with all of them. We will all miss him and it will be a long time before we will comprehend that he is no longer among us.

Born on May 24, 1927 in Kent, Wash., Sam's biggest claim to fame was his running ability. Just a few months ago, he was still running like a youngster, and winning races in his age group. He was unable to compete in because of illness, but he was certainly there in spirit.

Sam was forever seeking ways to run faster and he faithfully followed advice that he deemed useful. Until recently, when his illness forced him to resign, Sam was the leader of the Tamalpa Runners Men's Vets Racing Team.

In addition to his running, Sam was also an excellent golfer, frequently traveling to other cities to compete in tournaments.

Sam was married to former Dipsea winner Eve Pell, a member of the Dipsea Race Hall of Fame. The couple continued running after Hirabayashi’s cancer diagnosis, and the attached photo shows him last September at the start of the Hill Climb that starts in downtown Mill Valley.

There will be a private memorial service at 3:30 p.m. on July 17 in Fairfax. Contributions in Hirabayashi's memory can be sent to Hospice by the Bay, 17 E. Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Larkspur 94939.


Hans Roenau is a photographer for Mill Valley Patch. He has finished 33 Dipsea Races, as well as 24 Double Dipseas and one Quad Dipsea.

Julius Schillinger July 02, 2011 at 03:54 PM
For the last dozen years, I had the honor of knowing Sam through Kees' Thursday morning track workouts at CoM. Being a Super Senior, I always reminded Sam that he was my running role model, since he regularly beat me (I'm 20 yrs. his junior) in TCRS club races. During the last couple years, Sam would occasionally lament that his race times were creeping up, that he was running slower. I said, Sam, you're not getting slower; after all these years the world is finally catching up. I've heard some cynics say that anyone and everyone can be replaced. You can be sure they never met or ran with Sam. There is a vacuum that iexists in the space Sam moved so quickly across, in our hearts and minds. Rocker Neil Young voiced it best, "With your chrome heart shining, in the sun, long may you run". Run, Sam, Run. Julius Schillinger


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