Dr. Joan’s Sports Psych Talk: Celebrating an extraordinary Dipsea racer
Dr. Joan’s Sports Psych Talk-
Years ago, I was lucky enough to enjoy Jamie Rivers’ enthusiasm and energy just after she had arrived in San Francisco. We both enjoyed the zaniness of a Hash House Harriers’ run*. Even then, Jamie’s exuberance spread throughout the gaggle of runners.
I interviewed Jamie for a book I’m writing on relationships and female athletes. I was able to learn more about Jamie Rivers’ life. She is just one of the Dipsea wonders in contention for this year’s race. She grew up with three brothers on the island of Guam. Her parents always encouraged the kids to do, and be their best. The family participated in all types of outdoor activities. Jamie described lots of team work. Although, Jamie and her mother hung around sports in Guam, there were no organized sports for girls there. She began running her dog on the beach in Guam, ran in a couple of races, and eventually ran the Guam Marathon. Apparently, it took a long time for her to be competitive.
When she moved to the US in ’86, her running kept her centered and sane. Upon arriving in San Francisco in 1987, not only did she enjoy hashing but also she took up trail running and participated in Dave Horning’s (Enviro-Sports) races. We have to go all the way back to 1991 to find Jamie’s first significant win at a Dipsea event. That was the year she won the women’s division of the Double Dipsea. Her friend, Jack Berns, encouraged Jamie (at right) to continue developing her competitiveness. She said, “I have to work really, really hard.” This may be true but it all seems to pay off. Her key personal characteristics that help her succeed include such qualities as faith, believing in herself, hard work, and perseverance. Her love of the outdoors lays a strong foundation for feeling so at home on the Dipsea. Her ability to put together and execute a realistic plan certainly has contributed to her success as a trail and Dipsea runner.
Jamie is the only woman to have won the Dipsea, Double Dipsea, and Quad Dipsea. In 2006, Jamie shocked, even herself, by winning the Quad since it was her first ultra. In 2007, Jamie’s win in the Dipsea created so much excitement at the finish when she couldn’t believe she had won. She kept wondering where everyone else was. She graciously stayed at the finish line to cheer on her fellow competitors. Her heart was absolutely in the right place. That year, she and Roy (pictured at left) won the double Dipsea together. Now newly married, they may be competitors against one another again; although Barry Spitz’s odds system has Jamie at 9 to 1 and Roy at 4 to 1, but the commitment, care and camaraderie between them is by far the most compelling observation.
Good luck to you, Jamie. You’re a shining example of a “competitive” woman running in the 100th and the “Legal since 1971 – 40th.”
*Hash House Harriers are running groups in which there is a hare (runner) who sets a flour trail and the group of runners is supposed to follow to find the hare. Sometimes, there are false trails and the runners get side-tracked. There may be beer drinking at the end of the event. It was started by a group of serviceman in southeast Asia years ago as a form of entertainment and exercise.
Dr. Joan Steidinger is a sports and clinical psychologist with offices in Mill Valley and San Francisco. She has been practicing sports psychology with clients ranging from recreational to pro athletes for the past 17 years.
As an athlete herself, she has been a competitive ultrarunner, Ride & Tie competitor, and ultradistance cyclist.