Ever wonder what running the The San Francisco Marathon course is like? Let writer and runner Erin Mara, along with the SFM staff, take you through the experience of running the The San Francisco Marathon mile-by-mile. Get a sneak peak, then get registered and get training!


With the Ferry Building on the right, runners continue along the water, passing the next point of interest, Pier 7, one of the most beautiful piers in the state of California because of its ornamental iron handrails and lamp posts, and the views of the Transamerica Pyramid, Coit Tower and the Bay Bridge. It’s also the second longest fishing pier in San Francisco and equally entices fishermen, tourists and locals.

Just 1,000 feet further sits the Exploratorium an internationally renowned museum of science, art, and human perception with a 45-year history in San Francisco, recently relocated from the Palace of Fine Arts to a new scenic waterfront home at Piers 15 and 17. In 2014, the museum received LEED® Platinum certification, a step toward the goal of being the first net-zero energy museum in the U.S., if not the world, meaning it is working to produce more energy on-site than it consumes annually.

As the course continues along the Embarcadero runners will find Levi Strauss Plaza on the left, a red brick office complex that is as much a part of San Francisco’s history as the Golden Gate Bridge or sourdough bread. In 1873, German immigrant Levi Strauss patented the riveting (placing rivets at stress points so workers didn’t burst through their seams) of what we now call jeans, and built his company into one of the most well-known brands in the world. Levi Strauss & Co. is still owned by the Strauss family, and it is still a stalwart of the San Francisco business community. Levi’s Plaza, its world headquarters, features historical exhibits and a store carrying the exclusive lines Made & Crafted and Levi’s Vintage Clothing.

To the left is another beloved San Francisco landmark, Coit Tower. Up on the hill is the famed art deco tower, built of unpainted concrete and standing high on Telegraph Hill. The tower was a gift to San Francisco for the “beautification of the city,” from socialite and art patron Lillie Hitchcock Coit. Completed in 1933, the fluted column provides bird’s-eye views from an observation deck near the top. It’s rumored that the tower was designed to resemble a fire hose nozzle due to Coit’s affinity to the San Francisco firemen of the day, but it’s said that the resemblance is just coincidental.

Mile 2 also boasts the most direct views on the course of Alcatraz, the notorious military and federal penitentiary turned national park. Some of its most famous prisoners included Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and James “Whitey” Bulger.

At the end of Mile 2 runners pass the sparkling cruise ship terminal at Pier 27, the two-story James R. Herman Cruise Terminal which opened last year. On non-cruise days, the terminal converts to an impressive event center. In 2013, it served as home base for the America’s Cup international sailing race.