1. Whether it’s the 1st half, 2nd half, or the full, the top reason to run the race is so you can experience (in my humble opinion) the most beautiful city in the world, which just so happened to be named by Runner’s World as the #1 running city in the USA! In my seven charmed years of living in the city, I fell in love with all the natural beauty framed by man made icons like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Painted Ladies homes, the Transamerica Building, and Coit Tower. I became a foodie because of the vast array of mouth watering restaurants with cuisine from around the world, with prices to fit any budget. I felt a real sense of community with the vibrant, friendly denizens and enjoyed all the many festivals for people to come together like Bay 2 Breakers, Fleet Week, and the North Beach Festival. Pound for pound, I’d put San Francisco up against any city in the world!
2. Running in Golden Gate Park through the mist and fog is an incomparable experience. Larger than New York’s Central Park, Golden Gate Park is truly a green oasis in the city, with thousands of trees and plant life, big rolling fields, lakes, paddle boats, rose gardens, and even bison! You get to take in all these amazing sites on the 2nd half course, and it’s even more enchanting when the inevitable fog rolls in, creating a mysterious and hauntingly beautiful aura.
3. You get to run through the famous Haight and Mission neighborhoods, which to me are the most culturally interesting neighborhoods in a city brimming with it. The Haight is well known for being the epicenter of hippie subculture and the beat movement in the 1960s. Much of that tradition still permeates the neighborhood today, with street art, smoke shops, and eclectic people. The Mission, the warmest part of the city for inexplicable reasons, is one of my favorite areas to visit with its great Mexican food, street art and murals, lively nightlife and music scene, and its humble people. Though the area has undergone significant changes in the past couple of years, it’s still a must on any San Francisco visitor’s itinerary.
4. If you value your sleep like me, the 2nd half starts at 8:15am versus a 5:32am start for the 1st half. This was one of the main reasons I ran the 2nd half and I was definitely thankful for the extra hours of slumber! It also didn’t hurt that the start (in rustic Golden Gate Park) was a couple of blocks from my apartment.
5. With the 2nd half, you get to finish with the full marathoners at the scenic Embarcadero finish line a midst the frenetic festivities and crowds. I can vividly remember my big finish after running past AT&T Park and seeing the beautiful vistas of the Bay, the towering Bay Bridge, and the cheering crowds along the Embarcadero. The surreal finish line setting energized me to summon the last bit of my strength and sprint the last half mile and make it just under my goal time of 1:35 to finish at 1:34:56! I was overcome by emotions and broke into tears upon passing the finish line. This is a memory that will stay with me for a long time.
Editor’s Note: Registration for The 2nd Half Marathon (and the 1st and full!) are still open. Space is limited, and we do sell out, so make sure you act soon!