#ThursdayVibes Week One: Meet the SoCal Sisters


Lexxi Conroy

“If you’ve never run this race before, you are missing out!” A direct quote from Felicia Canales, a loyal runner to the San Francisco Marathon for the past six years. Felicia and her SoCal sisters, Shelley and Gayle (who are actual sisters!) return year after year from Anaheim and Los Angeles just to soak in the beauty of views and sites on course. 

Despite overcoming a breast cancer diagnosis in 2016, Felicia knew she wanted to continue to experience the joy and beauty the race brings her every year. She deferred her race and came back the next year, just as in awe of the gifts Mother Nature bestows. 

Together, Felicia and Shelley participate in our Half It All Challenge by running the half marathon, as well as the Double Up Challenge by running the 5K along with it! After showing her sister Gayle how amazing the half marathon experience was, Gayle decided to take her own adventure at running both the first and second halves before deciding 5K is her golden distance. 

Shelley says, “The SF Marathon is my go to destination race. I have participated for seven years in a row…love the beautiful and challenging courses, the variety of races and challenges offered for all levels, and the extremely competent organization that goes into this event. I am loyal forever!”

As if running together, soaking in the enchanting scenes of San Francisco wasn’t enough already, Shelley and Felicia made the absolute most of their time on course, running alongside and assisting one of our wheelchair athletes up some of the steepest hills Mother Nature has to offer! Here’s what Shelley had to say:

“Helping out Scotty on the course was such a positive and rewarding experience! Felicia and I saw him struggling a bit with the long uphill stretch once we passed the Golden Gate Bridge between miles 6-7. I did not want to offend him, but I wanted to offer him assistance. I asked if he could use a little assistance and his eyes lit up. We took turns pushing him up the gravelly portions of the course and had great conversations! He was such a trooper and we were so happy to be of assistance!” You can hear more from all three ladies in our Youtube interview, linked below!

Here at the San Francisco Marathon, we strive to gift our runners the beauty of an entire city and long for them to feel pure joy while soaking it all in. The SoCal Sisters truly embodied that and we’re honored they continue to share that experience with us year after year. 

See you in 2022, ladies!

Pictured here are Shelley Merrill (left), Gayle Heifetz (right), and Felicia Canales (center) with their Half It All, Double Up, and participation medals! That’s a lot of bling for one race weekend! Wanna be next up to earn it? Click here to find out more: https://www.thesfmarathon.com/2022-challenges-overview/

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