Course Tips From a 7-Time Loyal TSFM Marathoner

On July 26, 2015, I will complete my seventh consecutive San Francisco Marathon. I know the course like the back of my hand; every turn, every incline, every…buffalo! Yes, I did say buffalo! The course is 26.2 miles of historic San Francisco, and I like to call it my personal tour of the city on foot. I can’t keep away from this race; it calls me back year after year.

You will love the course as much as I do as long as you train for it. It isn’t the easiest course, but there are a unnamed-15lot less hills than you can imagine. Most would assume that it is very hilly, being that it is San Francisco, but actually it is half flat, one quarter up hill and one quarter down hill. The worst hills are at the beginning of the race, when you are still pretty fresh, so that makes things a lot easier.

In training for the San Francisco, you will want to take a look at the elevation chart. It is always best to try to simulate the racecourse as much as possible on your long training runs. You never want to go into a hilly race without practicing on at least a few hills. If you don’t have any hills in your area, try running stairs at a local high school football stadium or run the ramps of a parking garage when no cars are around.


Another thing to take into consideration are the down hills. Most people don’t worry about the down hills, but you need to practice your down hill running, otherwise you can mess up your quads and then they will be shot for the uphills. A good way to strengthen your body for those hills is biking or taking a spin class. In doing so, you will build up your quads making them ready to tackle any up hill or down hill.

unnamed-14The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon is a loop course; you begin and end almost at the same location. It is a beautiful course and you never see the same thing twice, like you do on an out and back course. The only area that may seem a bit long is through Golden Gate Park. There is a gradual incline as you run through the park, miles 15-17, making it a bit of a challenge to stay on pace. Then it begins to flatten out as you continue running around the park until you reach mile 19, when you exit the park up hill. Then the fun begins as you run through the city streets of Haight Ashbury. After enjoying the city, there are a few down hills at mile 20 and 21 then it is pretty much flat to the finish line.

The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon has a lot of turns, so remember to run the tangents. To run the shortest route, keep as close as possible to the inside edge of the road on all turns, and as you come out of the turn, assume a straight line route to the inside of the next turn. Practice doing this in your training runs and you will run the shortest route.

If you arrive to the starting line prepared, you will enjoy an amazing race. Be sure to keep an eye out for the buffalo in Golden Gate Park and don’t worry, there is a fence to keep them from chasing you. See you on July 26th!

3 Replies to "Course Tips From a 7-Time Loyal TSFM Marathoner"

  • comment-avatar
    June 9, 2015 (11:43 am)

    Thanks a lot because i was scared because I thought the marathon was a world of ups.!!! Now i can sleep happy !!

  • comment-avatar
    June 25, 2015 (6:35 pm)

    Many thanks for that explanation, it was very helpful – my first TSFM this year, i am from Brisbane, Queensland.
    Could i invite you to estimate how many minutes slower it is than a PB course, and would you say the weather conditions are generally OK?

    alan (v55)

  • comment-avatar
    A B Devillers
    July 1, 2015 (4:13 pm)

    What about the first half of the marathon……Are there a lot of hills?