What Makes The San Francisco Marathon The Perfect Destination Race

Written by 2020 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador, Lindsay Walter. Lindsay is a social media influencer, alopecia ambassador, and health advocate.


Anytime there is an opportunity to travel and run a marathon I always jump on the chance to do so. And then, add in the chance to run in San Francisco along the water, right by all of the iconic landmarks and over the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise was a dream. 


Planning for a racecation does require some thought when it comes to packing and preparation to make the most out of your time, but it is worth it. 


I ran my first San Francisco Marathon in 2017 and it definitely exceeded my expectations. The running weather at the end of July in the Bay Area is a runner’s dream. It is cool in the morning, a tank top and shorts, or even a long sleeve is perfect depending on your preference.


If you’ve never been to the area, or are coming out of town like I did I suggest getting into town a few days early in order to adjust to the time difference and get settled in. This will also allow a day or two to take part in all of the sight-seeing and tours you’ll want to do. Plan ahead with this, buy tickets in advance and have a tentative itinerary. This will help not feel rushed, but also give you enough time to fit everything in you’ll want to do. My favorite tour was Alcatraz. I took on a lot of the city by foot, so I was really able to get in the full experience and views and then give myself a day to rest my legs and prepare for the marathon and all of those hills. 


Speaking of hills, there is nothing to fear. You know it is going to be hilly so train on hills. This way on race day you are already prepared and you’ll be able to enjoy the race. 


I think it is best to stay at one of the partner hotels. This makes for an easy walk right to the start area, and finish line. I do not like to be stressed on race morning, so this works best for me. If you are staying further out make sure you familiarize yourself with how you’ll be getting to the start as well as all of the traffic. There will be even more with the race going on so always allow extra time where going anywhere; start line, expo, dinner etc. this will help to not feel stressed. 

I looked up restaurants in advance. I picked a few I wanted to go to to enjoy the food there, of course Ghirardelli Chocolate was on the list. But then the day before I planned out healthy options. I have learned traveling to a destination race with a plan makes it so much easier. 

The best part of the race is all of the views. There is nothing like seeing the beautiful sunrise over the water as you’re running downtown and then up to the bridge that really leaves you breathless. It is absolutely stunning. I also loved running over the Golden Gate Bridge, which is part of the full marathon course. It was so windy, so prepare yourself for that. 


Another added bonus of this race weekend is the variety of distances. You have a 5K option on Saturday and Sunday. A first half and second half marathon, full marathon and ultra marathon. This means there is something for everyone. 


I fell in love with this race the moment I ran in, but not just for the views and challenging course, but because of the community. I met so many fellow runners and volunteers throughout the weekend, especially at the Capital One Health & Wellness Expo. Everyone was so encouraging, kind and supportive. It felt like a true family and I felt so welcomed and embraced the entire race weekend. 


The San Francisco Marathon truly is one of my favorite races and I can’t wait to come back in July again for the 3rd time. It is definitely a bucket list race for sure! 


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