The Road to the Loyal Runners Club

Contributed by May Wu

May Wu is a 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador who completed the Half It All Challenge in 2011 and went on to join the 52 Club in 2012. Most recently, she joined the Loyal Runners Club in 2015.

Click here to learn more about Challenges offered by the San Francisco Marathon.

The San Francisco Marathon has an amazing reputation as a scenic, fun, and hilly summer race. It is by far one of my favorite road races, ever. I love it so much that I’ve ran the half marathon 3 times and the full marathon 5 times. In 2010, after completing a handful of flat road races in Southern California, I felt like taking up the challenge to complete the infamous SF Marathon, whose motto is “Worth the Hurt”! It was a bucket list race and I trained hard for it, putting in time to do speed work and running hillier routes in my neighborhood. While I had prepared for the course, I didn’t expect the spectacular views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge or the amazing crowd support to win me over. And let’s be real, I loved the medal I got for completing the 1st Half Marathon.

In 2011, the Half It All Challenge was introduced and I HAD TO earn that extra bling. OK, so that was how I got into running the 2nd Half Marathon. It was definitely a different experience from the 1st Half, but equally fun and exciting. Oh, and it also had some sneaky hills! Then in 2012, the 52 Club Challenge was introduced and knowing myself, I had to earn that awesome hoodie (and bragging rights). So I did what I swore I would never […]

Half-ing It All

Contributed by Bonnie Wilson

Bonnie Wilson is a 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador who plans to earn her third finisher’s medal from TSFM this July, while simultaneously taking on the Half It All Challenge. She lives in Portland, OR and this is her third year as an Amabassador.

Let’s face it. We all love bling. The feeling of accomplishment when they drape that medal around your neck and you realize that you worked your rear end off to get that. The cheesy photos, the showing off to everyone you know. You know what I am talking about.

And then there is the feeling when you have completed a challenge and get that second medal with your finisher medal. That will be me this year, as I get to tackle the Golden Gate Bridge and the First Half Marathon to complete my Half It All Challenge.

In July, I will not only get my third finisher’s medal from SF (I ran the full in 2014, and the Second Half in 2015), but I will finish the Half It All Challenge and will be running around with the amazing spinner medal (which I fully intend on spinning everywhere).

The Half It All Challenge consists of finishing the First and Second Half Marathons in consecutive years. You have run 26.2 miles through the city, and you have seen the best that the City has to offer. You have truly half-ed it all.

At first, I didn’t intend to go for the Half It All Challenge medal. Last year I had every intention to go for my second marathon, but injuries and training challenges complicated that thought. So I ran the Second Half and had a blast. It was challenging, but fun and rewarding all at the […]

By |February 3rd, 2016|Categories: Ambassadors||0 Comments

Challenging Myself: California Dreamin’ Racing Cup

Ashley Jones is 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador who will qualify for the California Dreamin’ Racing Cup by completing the Surf City Half Marathon on Sunday, February 7. She also plans to complete the SF/Berkeley Challenge this year.

On Sunday, I will run the Surf City Half Marathon in Huntington Beach, CA. By completing this race, I will have qualified for the California Dreamin’ Racing Cup. Yesssssssss! As you can see from the graphic above:
All you have to do is run both the Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon and the San Francisco Full/Half Marathon and you get a fancy medal!
Sounds simple right? It’s not. Running 13.1 miles, or 26.2 miles takes time. It’s takes effort. It takes dedication. They don’t just hand these medals out to every athletic lookin’ dude or dudette on the street. No, no they don’t.
You have to earn it.
This medal isn’t just earned on race day. It is earned in the early mornings. It is earned in the snow, in the heat, and in the rain. It is earned in July, in December, and in March. It is earned on the weekends when you would rather sleep in. It’s crazy to think that one simple medal could represent so much.

My California Dreamin’ medal might be one of twenty-two medals hanging on my medal rack. (Yes, I counted them.) But it represents so much more. For me, it represents 2 years of hard work. It represents my vindication over the injury that caused me to DNS in 2014 at the Surf City Marathon. It represents how I clawed my way back from that same injury to finish one of the most challenging half marathons of my life, the San Francisco Half Marathon.

So needless to say, I am looking forward to wearing that medal around my neck for a while. Who knows, I might […]

By |February 3rd, 2016|Categories: Ambassadors||0 Comments

Getting Back to Me in 2016

Contributed by Heather Stewart, San Francisco Marathon Ambassador. This is Heather’s third year as an Ambassador, and in 2016 she’ll run the Half Marathon in honor of Girls on the Run LA.
If it is both terrifying and amazing, you should definitely pursue it. ~erada
For 2016, I didn’t make resolutions. I didn’t even really make goals. I set intentions for myself with a theme. 2016 is “The Year of Being Vulnerable.” I intend to be more open and honest – to let people see me how I really am. In that spirit, I have to revisit a time when I was the person I was most proud to be, and when I felt like, “This is me.”

This “Me” is Heather from 2013: two years into my journey to a healthier life after losing 80 pounds. Proud and joyful after completing my first full marathon. I felt happy, healthy, and authentic.

That was also the first year I ran the first half of The San Francisco Marathon. Oh, and I set a PR. And it’s still my PR at 2:40. (We’re not all fast, we just all do it).

I remember running through the finish line, feeling strong and proud. Snapping selfies, texting everyone, picking up my bonus medals and a cup of Irish coffee. It was a great day! I haven’t run a sub 3-hour half since then. I want that day again. I want more of those days!

At the end of 2013, I got injured. I let that derail me – I gained some weight, made lots of excuses, and allowed myself to feel disappointed and defeated. Although I continued to move forward and once healed I kept racing, I wasn’t really “in it”. I didn’t do it […]

By |January 29th, 2016|Categories: Ambassadors, Latest News||1 Comment

Running Resolutions for 2016

Contributed by Stephanie Laska, San Francisco Marathon Ambassador. Stephanie is a first-time TSFM Ambassador and plans to run four marathons this year: Modesto, Big Sur, San Francisco, and the California International Marathon.

At the end of every year, I spend hours locked away in my office, methodically organizing digital photos from the past 12 months. It’s a grueling task that everyone in my family pretends “not to know how to do.” Pulling from every digital device, I place photos chronologically from iPads, iPhones, and GoPro into one master database, followed by a review and evaluation of every image. Should this be in the family album? Is it representative of our year? The next step is much more fun: I organize, design, and publish a 100 page album. It’s a lot of work!

The same process should occur for our running. We devote so many hours of our lives to this beloved sport, but how much time is spent reflecting and planning? I decided to take a look at my past year in running. I wanted to see what worked, what didn’t, and what’s worth repeating. What I learned about myself is worth sharing with you; it is what I call my Running Resolutions.
Run Happy!
This Christmas we adopted a dog from a shelter for my little boy (cue sad music). It was all he wanted in life (that and Call of Duty). I had been toying with the idea of needing a running partner for safety, and suddenly I had a new best friend at 5am wagging her tail and grabbing the leash. Our first run together surprised me. She was so happy! Tail­waggin’, butt­shakin’, nose­sniffin’ HAPPY! Somehow, I had lost that feeling in my own runs. This is supposed to be […]

By |January 26th, 2016|Categories: Ambassadors, Latest News||1 Comment

Living in Possibility – Comin For Ya SFM

By: Kristine Ciardello

Kristine is into all things active and sweaty – barre, running, cycling, Pilates, skiing, hiking, the works. She’s a certified Pilates Instructor and kind of in love with San Francisco. That said, Hawaii is her favorite place on the planet. She’d rather be on a beach pretty much any time of day. She loves to cook (and also eat). She’s fluent in Sarcasm and Wit. To sum herself up? She’s essentially somewhere between a green juice and a glass of cab at all times. This is 31. Visit Kristine’s Blog at:

So this whole new year thing.

I’ve talked about where I want to focus. On Possibility. On Connection.

I think that living in a place of possibility rather than in the fear of failure opens you up to so much. I’m an impulsive person by nature (for better or for worse right?) and while spontaneity has never been an issue for me (I thrive at it), I’m really good at thinking about things and talking about things. Like a lot.

It’s the doing of the things that holds me back sometimes. Enter fear of failure. Enter oldest-child-syndrome. Enter Scorpio.

But F that. Right? It’s time.

YOLO and all of that.

We’ll start on a lighter note. 

I want to run a sub-1:50 half-marathon.

“Officially”, I’ve never done this. “Unofficially”, (i.e. via my Garmin, I have 1:49 at the Kaiser 1/2 in 2012) I have. Lady who decided to stop on the finish line, I will never forget you. Ever. I hope your brunch was terrible post-race.

Dead horse, beaten.

This has been a goal I’ve had for a while. I know I’m capable of it. I know where my fitness level is. I know I can execute.

It’s just the whole doing it for a couple of months (consistently) to prepare […]

By |January 13th, 2016|Categories: Latest News||0 Comments

Setting Intentions For TSFM 2016

Scott Benbow, above right, is a returning endurance runner, training for The San Francisco Marathon on July 31st, and a returning TSFM Race Ambassador. We caught up with him this New Year’s weekend to hear about his training plans, as he focuses in on a strong TSFM race on July 31st, 2016.

As of the first Sunday in 2016, January 3, the thirty-week countdown begins for the 2016 running of The San Francisco Marathon. Setting intentions for 2016, I have been mapping out my strategy for running a successful race on July 31. For me, that includes vowing to avoid injuries that have sidelined me for the past two years.
For the past several months, I have been undergoing weekly Graston Technique and Active Release Therapy sessions trying to recover from a debilitating case of plantar fasciitis. Finally, in the last month of 2015, it seems I’m cured.
This fall and winter, my strategy is to run minimal miles and focus more on strengthening my core — especially my seemingly nonexistent glutes — in an effort to prepare myself for healthier and happier miles in the spring. I’m getting most of my cardiovascular workouts from spin classes at the moment, but I can’t wait to begin running longer distances in 2016.
My winter goal is to continue to incorporate two intensive spin classes per week for the next several months, gradually incorporating a post-spin run to extend my daily cardio output.
I’m also focused on balance. I used to believe I had a pretty good sense of balance. That belief was crushed, however, after I purchased, and was utterly humbled by, a Bosu Ball. It strikes me that balance, along with lateral strength will serve me well as I train this year. I will continue working on hip strength, glute strength, […]

By |January 3rd, 2016|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on Setting Intentions For TSFM 2016

Thankful And Blessed

Written by Jody Stoops, 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador
A personal trainer and a certified RRCA running coach with a passion for helping others achieve their goals, whether it’s running their first race, qualifying for the Boston Marathon or attaining a new healthy lifestyle through faith, fitness, motivation, and nutrition. As a marathoner, I have completed 14 full marathons, including the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Boston Marathon (and returning in 2016) and six San Francisco Marathons, my personal favorite. Most importantly, I’m a wife and mother of three teenagers balancing a life that involves staying healthy and fit while raising my family.

This time of year we remember and we give thanks. As I look back over this year, I am thankful for so many things. In my running career, I have reached goals I never dreamed possible. Not only did I BQ (Boston Qualify) at the Boston Marathon in April in horrible rainy and cold running conditions, but I also got a new PR (Personal Record) of 3:39:00. Eight weeks later I reached another personal best and came home with a new Half Marathon PR of 1:43:05 at the Rock and Roll San Diego Half Marathon.

These new records were sidelined by some pretty devastating news. I was running my best but not feeling my best. I made a visit to a physical therapist, and after a few weeks of rest and then therapy, he determined that running probably wasn’t the best thing for my body due mainly to a slight curve in my back; scoliosis. The scoliosis, along with the fact that my hips are a little uneven, and one leg is slightly shorter than the other, led to some hamstring issues.

My physical therapist assumed the […]

By |November 26th, 2015|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on Thankful And Blessed

The Thankful Game

Written by Stephanie Laska, 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador @140lost
Stephanie Laska works as a Medical Sales Representative for a Global Pediatric Nutrition Company. She has worked in pharmaceutical sales in the Monterey-San Luis Obispo communities in addition to the Central Valley. Stephanie holds a Masters in Education from UC Santa Barbara and holds three teaching credentials. Stephanie is 100% new to running having discovered the sport two years ago; she didn’t waste any time pushing herself to the limit. Stephanie won first place (Athena Division) of her very first Marathon in March — the Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon, and went on to run the Big Sur International 21mi., and the San Francisco Full Marathon just months later. You may have read Stephanie’s story that was shared in the race brochure for the Big Sur International Half Marathon 2014. Through the discovery of running, combined with changing eating habits, Stephanie has lost 140lbs., or half of her body weight. Stephanie and her best friend/love-of-her life/running partner-in-crime, husband Bill, are raising their two elementary school aged children (both becoming runners!) in Turlock, CA.

I’ll admit it. Sometimes on a long run I just want to give up. It’s hard. I’m too hot. I’m too cold. I’m just not into it and I want to stop. Am I the only one out there?

With some trial and error, I’ve learned I can consciously convince myself to back away from falling off the runner’s cliff. I call this the “Thankful Game.” While running, I steer my inner conversation from complaining to compliments, from rejections to rejoices.

What are my “greatest hits” of running moments”? W​hat moments am I most thankful for?

It wasn’t long ago my kids saw me run for the first […]

By |November 26th, 2015|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on The Thankful Game

Thanks Endorphins

Written by Heather Stewart, 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador.
Heather Stewart works, lives and, most importantly, runs in Santa Clarita, Ca. Like many others, Heather was overweight and unhappy when she made the goal to run a 5K in late 2010. She trained, ran and was hooked! Since that day in March of 2011, she has completed over 40 organized races including 3 sprint triathlons and 3 marathons. She was chosen to be a Spotlight Runner for her first marathon, the 2013 LA Marathon and has a passion for encouraging others to meet their running dreams regardless of their size. When not running she works in Learning and Development at Princess Cruises, goes to Grad School, sits on the board of the Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund ( and is an Ambassador for Girls on the Run LA. Her goal is to be an “old lady runner” and her favorite place on earth is a finish line….whether cheering at it or running through it.

Today, I had a bad day.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was blue.

I wanted to crawl back into bed and get out tomorrow.

I’m sure there are a plethora of reasons why I could have been sad.

I’m busy. I do it to myself. I’m overwhelmed with my busy-ness. I have a hard time shaking the feeling that I’m disappointing people. I have a hard time shaking the feeling that I’m disappointing myself.

So all day I felt,well, blah.

I knew I had to get a workout in today. I debated running, going to spin, or getting back into bed and exercising my right to change my mind.

But I ran.

I never thought I’d become a runner. I started running because I was stubborn. I […]

By |November 25th, 2015|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on Thanks Endorphins