THE SAN FRANCISCO MARATHON 1ST HALF COURSE: MILE 9
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!
Runners begin Mile 9 in Sea Cliff, one of San Francisco’s wealthiest neighborhoods, known for its estate homes and scenic ocean views. In this master planned neighborhood built before the Great Depression, oceanfront homes are massive, lush lawns are well-manicured, and unlike most other neighborhoods in the city, there are no cluttering utility lines in sight. Some famous current and past residents include the late comic and actor Robin Williams, actress Sharon Stone, Gap founder Donald Fisher, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett and photographer Ansel Adams.
Just offshore here and around the corner at Land’s End, three ships that wrecked in the early 1900s can be seen at low tide. Before the days of GPS, sonar, foghorns and a tugboat escort, more than 300 ships sunk in the waters approaching the Golden Gate Bridge. Rocks hide just before the surface, the channel is narrow, and there are often strong currents and dense fog. Possibly the worst wreck was the steamship City of Rio de Janeiro in 1901. The passenger ship made it past the rocks at the entrance, but hit a submerged ledge near Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge. The ship sank in eight minutes and 128 out of 210 passengers were lost.
The course makes a sharp turn from the upscale Sea Cliff on to 27th Avenue, and heads through the Richmond District, a densely populated residential neighborhood dotted with Palm trees and lined with apartment buildings and single family homes. The Richmond is known for its foggy weather and chilly climate from gusty winds blowing in off the ocean. It’s home to various ethnic populations but is vastly inhabited by Chinese residents, its commercial strips on Geary Boulevard and Clement Street commonly referred to as San Francisco’s second Chinatown. The Richmond also has deep Irish and Russian roots and has many Catholic and Orthodox churches. Just off 27th Avenue at Geary Boulevard runners can see the ornate Holy Virgin Cathedral Russian Orthodox Church. Built in the 1960s, its five onion-shaped domes are covered in 24-carat gold leaf. It’s the Russian Orthodox spiritual center of America’s West Coast.
Runners continues down 27th Avenue through the close-knit homes and apartment buildings. The streets are densely populated here, but the respite of Golden Gate Park’s open space awaits. As Mile 9 ends just past Balboa St, runners get their first glimpse of the greenery ahead, and the course slopes downward, ushering racers into the 1,000-acre expanse.