Novato’s Kai Pasquale is proud to note there were no deaths among participants in the annual Dipsea Race during his years manning the ambulance assigned to monitor the event.
The 36-year-old hopes that streak continues Sunday when he, for the first time, attends Marin’s most famous running race as a participant in its 101st edition.
“I’m definitely there to avoid the ambulance,” the Marin Catholic High alumnus declared. “I don’t need my fellow workers to take me to the hospital.”
Currently a captain in the Southern Marin Fire District, Pasquale admitted he was fortunate to never have to deal with anything more than heat exhaustion on what often was a busy Dipsea Sunday.
“There were a lot of minor strains and sprains,” he was happy to report.
Pasquale grew up in Mill Valley and often ran the Dipsea Stairs. But it wasn’t until he was a paramedic that he got familiar with the race-day course.
“I always thought it would be fun to run from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, but I never took that next step,” he said. “I’ve got three kids now (ages 1, 3 and 4 ½), and I just thought it was time to take it to the next step.”
Having lived in Novato the past seven years, Pasquale has been training on trails around the Indian Valley Golf Club, as well as Big Trees and Rush Creek. To a far lesser extent, his race preparation has come from playing slow pitch softball at Indian Valley College in a Novato park & rec league.
The latter might make him the ideal candidate for ambulance service Sunday, but Pasquale isn’t just running to survive.
“My goal is to make it to the invitational group so I can keep running it,” he said of finishing in the top 750. “But there are definitely a lot of unknowns. Like having 1,500 runners. I’ve been on the course, but never with that many people.”
Pasquale says competitors should be comforted by the race organizer’s health-related preparations. There’s even a second ambulance crew — this one based in Stinson Beach — that’ll be on alert Sunday.
The Sacramento State graduate says he already feels like a winner just having gotten into the race.
“I was definitely surprised,” he said of news his application, in which his paramedic work was prominently mentioned, was accepted. “One of my training partners didn’t get in. And my neighbor right across the street, who ran it a bunch of times, he didn’t get in.”
If nothing else, Pasquale knows where the trouble spots lie on the 7.5-mile route.
“There are a lot of single-track trails. Steep uphills and downhills,” he warned himself. “It’ll be interesting with some of the recent rains what the trail conditions and are going to be.
“There are more than a few questions that I’m looking to have answered.”
And one he hopes that isn’t asked of him: “Do you know where you are right now?”