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 6 marks a very exciting section of the course – the climb up towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Beginning at the west end of Crissy Field, the route leads along Lincoln Boulevard, up through the Presidio and the new Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion.

Runners will leave the graveled bayside trail, and join the pathway adjacent to Lincoln Boulevard, – one of the city’s main arteries – running through the Presidio. There’s a bit of an incline at this stretch, but the eucalyptus-scented sea breezes makes the push all the more pleasant. The course takes runners by a row of the Presidio’s cream-colored and terracotta-roofed homes, once some of the Army’s most coveted postings, now available for rent to the lucky few able to score a lease.  Runners leave the Bayside trail and begin to head up to the Golden Gate Bridge.  A sharp left turn and runners find themselves in lush green surroundings, take a deep breath of the eucalyptus scented air and push through this climb.  At the top of Long Ave. views of the Historic Presidio cream-colored and terracotta-roofed homes, once some of the Army’s most coveted postings, push runners on.

The course then continues onto Battery East Rd. with amazing sweeping elevated views of the bay off to the right, and just ahead the Golden Gate Bridge begins to loom as you get closer. Zig Zag up the trail to make your official entrance onto the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge walkway.

As runners step foot onto the Golden Gate Bridge, historic Fort Point is below. Construction of the fort began at the height of the California Gold Rush, and was completed before the U.S. Civil War by the United States Army to defend the San Francisco Bay against a naval attack on California. Although Fort Point never saw battle, and its guns never fired a shot in anger, the building’s military history, architecture, and association with maritime history is tremendously significant. The fort is now protected as Fort Point National Historic Site.

The rocky point just north of the fort is popular with surfers in the winter months.

Runners will be heading north toward the Marin County line, taking in views of the lush, green headlands ahead, and Alcatraz and the city skyline to the right. More than 40 million vehicles cross the bridge every year. Something only those crossing by foot will notice: the bridge bows, and the first section is a slight incline. Interestingly, and thanks to the temperature, the bridge has the ability to move up and down by 16 feet!