For me, marathons generally fall into one of two categories: a race that I remember because of the actual footrace, itself, the ground that I covered over the course of 26.2 miles, or a race that I remember because of the actual experience, something that includes the actual race distance (of course) but also all the other “little things” that go into making a race and its weekend unique.
The San Francisco Marathon, my friends, has earned a special place in my heart because of the sheer experience and magnitude of it all.
I first ran TSFM in 2010, and had flown in from Chicago for a quick weekend trip—literally only coming to SF to run the race—and I had no goals or expectations. I had never been to SF before (or California, for the matter), and I thought that run-seeing my way through the city by the bay, on a perfect Sunday morning in late July, would be the best and fastest way to explore all the city had to offer.
It didn’t disappoint. I was impressed with the experience of running past SF’s icons over the course of my 26.2 mile adventure, including:
The quiet of the Embarcadero in the early, predawn miles;
The hills of Fort Mason before making our way to the breathtaking views (obscured that morning by some equally beautiful late July fog) offered by the one and only Golden Gate Bridge;
The US’s largest urban park (bigger than Central Park in NYC), the esteemed Golden Gate Park;
The enormous downhills on Haight Street and the hippies and counterculture vibe that only the Haight can bring;
The Mission District;
AT&T Park, where you know you’re so close to the finish line but still have some work to do;