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!


Mile 10 is the last stretch of the Golden Gate Bridge. The city of San Francisco and Baker Beach beckon in the distance, and the course’s longest downhill  awaits, but runners should enjoy their last strides on San Francisco’s most famous landmark. Runners may notice their pace quicken, as the start of this mile begins with a decline as runners make their way off the bridge. Just after exiting the Golden Gate bridge directly onto the path that hugs the cliffs of the entrance to the bay is one of the best selfie spots on the course, with the bridge directly behind. If runners look ahead of they can see views of historic Sea Cliff and Baker Beach.

Giant eucalyptus and cypress trees tower above to the left. Eucalyptus, cypress and pine forests were planted in the Presidio by the U.S. Army in the 1880s when the region served as a military post for nearly 150 years. The Army transformed the Presidio grounds from windswept dunes to a lush military post in order to create relief from battering winds, to distinguish the post from the city that was growing around it, and to make the post seem more imposing.

Dropping down to the right are rugged coastal cliffs, and waves crash onto Baker Beach in the distance. This entire mile features spectacular ocean views, and — even better — the beginning of a major downgrade. Racers are known to say that coasting down this long and steady hill is the best feeling of all 26 miles.

Runners pass the Pacific Overlook on their right, one of the Presidio’s eight scenic overlooks. The viewpoint, built in 2012, boasts expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, from Land’s End to the Golden Gate Bridge. The overlook preserves a willow grove just below the plaza and uses reclaimed cypress wood from the Presidio’s reforestation project for rustic wooden benches.

In the distance looking west, just offshore, runners can see the Mile Rocks Light, an unusual-looking lighthouse with a flat top and red painted rings, built on a rock. It was on this rock that the passenger steamship, City of Rio de Janeiro, wrecked in 1901. One hundred and twenty eight people of 209 aboard lost their lives when the ship sink in under eight minutes. Thankfully, today ships have the lighthouse to guide them and runners won’t need to test the waters below.

Water stop 4 awaits at the end of Mile 10.