The place where dreams come true? That sounds about right.
Stephanie Dinius, former state cross country and track champion while a student at Sequim High and track star at Stanford University, set a blistering pace in winning the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 1.
Dinius, now of Palo Alto, Calif., beat out a field of 10,008 female runners to place third overall. She topped the previous course record (1:18:01) that Rachel Booth set in 2011.
Dinius said she wasn’t even planning on running the race until one of her club team teammates bowed out. She said that despite not being trained up for a half-marathon — the 10,000 meters is her usual distance — that she felt good, and worked out a plan with her club coach.
“I expected to win because it hasn’t been that competitive in years past,” Dinius said. “I just wanted to have fun. It helped to have three guys to run with the whole time who were going about the right pace. I just stuck with them the entire race. If I hadn’t had them, it would have been a totally different story.”
In the process, Dinius came within 47 seconds of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic trials for the full marathon.
Jimmy Grabow of Runner Springs, Calif., crossed the finish line in 1:07:41, followed by Ricardo Ramirez (1:14:30) and Dinius. So-called the “Happiest Race on Earth,” the half-marathon course led runners along Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland Park, through Disney California Adventure Park and onto the streets of Anaheim.
Sequim star shines
While at Sequim, Dinius (Marcy) set a state meet record for the 1,600-meters (since broken) with a 4:54 mark and won the class 2A state cross-country title in 2006. She went on to become a collegiate All-American at Stanford.
Since then she moved to San Francisco, but injuries kept her from racing full time. A move south to Palo Alto has helped, she said.
“There are tons of running trails (here),” Dinius said.
She now races for the New Balance-Silicon Valley Club Team under the guidance of former Stanford coach Dena Evans.
“I’m really encouraged by the experience; it was not out of my comfort zone at all,” Dinius said. “I’ve always felt like the longer distance the better for me (though) I still feel an affinity for the 10k.”
But Dinius said she’s not hurrying to qualify for either 10,000-meter or marathon distance yet. She and husband Shane — a prep star at Sequim in his own right — are headed to Europe for two-and-a-half weeks. And when she gets back, it’s cross country race season for her and fellow Silicon Valley Club Team members.
“I have lots of time,” Dinius said. “My next chance at a half may be next summer.”