I. LOVED. THIS. RACE! I said it several times leading up to this event, but I had no plans to “race” the SFM. I wanted to go out, have a good time, enjoy the scenery, cooler temps and just being able to run again. I accomplished all that and more on Sunday!
The race has a super early start (5:30am) because it crosses the Golden Gate Bridge and they can’t leave that closed too late in the day. We were fortunate that our hotel was a mere 3 blocks from the race start so early morning logistics weren’t an issue. We headed out the door around 5am and had our bags checked and places in the start corrals in plenty of time. We had a few questions but the numerous volunteers were ale to answer them quickly and with the right answer! Such a bonus when you’re running in a foreign city! This is one of the best organized races I think I’ve ever done!!
SFM has a very detailed corral system that I really think all larger races should adopt. This was only my second race where corrals were released in increments (hey, that’s what a WAVE start should be) rather than just being places to line up at the start line. Wave 4 was the place to be on Sunday morning as I met up with Aron, Courtney, Sima, and Kristin.
Just before the start we also found Kristen.
After meeting most of these lovely ladies IRL Saturday for the shake out run, I was thrilled they added me to their group for Sunday’s logistics. None of us had time goals which made this even more fun as we just chatted and enjoyed the sites along the way.
I had been warned that the First 1/2 course is deceptively flat until right before the Golden Gate Bridge and to not go out too fast. This was good advice. The course definitely got hillier, especially for this TX flat-lander, as we wound our way towards the Bridge, but I was pleasantly surprised there wasn’t anything that stopped me in my tracks. That might have been different if I was running for time, but at our comfortable pace, I actually enjoyed the hills and the views you got from the top.
As we were coming across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin and the turn around point, Kristen noticed a certain slightly famous runner just ahead of us. Yup, we ran “with” Dean Karnazes (in blue and white) for part of the race. Several spectators were yelling for him, but we tried to play it cool hence only stealth pics.
Right before we got to the turn around, Kristin mentioned a need for a pit stop. All for one and one for all in this race so a group pit stop was made. (notice the restroom sign above Kristen’s head)
Shortly after we crossed back over the Golden Gate I was shocked to look down at my Garmin and see 10 miles had already passed. Running with friends is definitely the way to go!! I loved having “locals” to tell me what to expect and share funny stories about training runs along the race course. As we entered Golden Gate Park, we made our finish line plans. All in a row, lifting our arms in unison, most definitely! (hopefully there’s a good picture of that, but I haven’t seen one yet)
Once we crossed the finish line, there was water immediately which is such a bonus!! Once I have water, I don’t mind weaving my way around. The different “stations” (water, race medal, space blanket) were spread out a little which meant none of them were crowded or causing a bottle neck. The line to get our gear check bags was quite long, but that’s to be expected with a wave start and gear check bags by wave numbers. They did have some volunteers handing out snacks in the line which was a nice touch. I also appreciated that Kristen and Sima were in line with me so we kept talking and distracting each other from the cold and line. Some warm dry clothes and Irish Coffee later, we watched some of the 2nd 1/2 and Full Marathon runner go by while I waited for my travel buddies to finish (they started in a different wave).
I HIGHLY recommend the San Francisco Marathon to anyone looking for a great summer race in a destination where the summer temperatures won’t kill you! Everything from the expo, to the start and finish was very organized and well run. AND if you ever forget how great the running community is, one of my friends lost her iPhone at the start and someone turned it in to the SFM lost and found. A couple of hours and calls later and the phone was returned. Class act SF, class act.
This is the first race I’ve done in a long time that was just for fun. It was such a freeing concept that I will definitely be trying it again soon. I’m also trying to convince my lovely running partners to come South for a race…