Get inspired by these Gold Stories

  • Nina Zarina: Not Afraid To Dream and Work Hard | January 21, 2020
    Nina Zarina_Gold Story

    Nina was born and grew up in Moscow, the capital of the Russian Federation. She says she liked math and computer science and was a “normal nerd until age 25, without any serious sports background.”

    She has a Masters of Science in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Moscow State Technical University and graduated in the top five percent of her class.

    But, in Russia, there are no sports or track and field in college, unlike in the United States, so she didn’t really think about sports or running at all while she was going to school. She says, “I was just studying my math. I almost forgot about sports.”
    Nina says that running was and still is her “transformation route to a better life.

    After years of consistent training, she’s raced in marathons and ultramarathons all over the world, she’s the winner of international marathons, she’s a member of an elite racing team, and she believes that the Olympic Games could be a possibility someday.

    One of those international marathons that Nina won was the 2019 San Francisco Marathon. It was her second international marathon win ever, with the first one at the New Year’s Marathon in Zurich, Switzerland on Jan. 1, 2019.

    Nina’s Gold Goal: To run the the Chicago Marathon in the fall, and to set a good example of how it is never too late to start changing and transform your life. Even if nobody believes in you at the beginning.

    Read Nina’s Full Gold Story on our blog

  • Samantha Golden: Training To Run Her First Marathon | January 19, 2020
    I have always loved running since I was 8 years old and joined my first track team. I have run on and off over the past decade and I usually quit because I get an injury like shin splints and then give up. This time I am committed to improving my health and fitness so I signed up for the San Francisco Marathon to inspire myself to keep going.
    My goal is to complete the San Francisco Marathon in July. The most I’ve ever raced is a 5k and I don’t think I’ve ever run more than 4 miles at a time so I have my work cut out for me. This will be my first marathon!
  • Kimberly: SF Marathon Runner Says, Train Hard. Run Hard. Love Hard. Be Stronger Than Your Excuses | January 14, 2020

    Kimberly served in the Air Force for five years. After being stationed in Hawaii, the birthplace of the Ironman events, she decided to start training and competing in Ironman events.

    Eventually, Kimberly decided she wanted to focus just on running and see how well she could do in a marathon if she only had to run (and hadn’t first swam 2.4 miles and biked 112 miles!).

    In 2012, she competed in her first marathon in Hawaii. She continued to improve, with the help of her husband, who Kimberly says is a natural runner, and she gained a respect for the sport.

    Kimberly’s Gold Goal: Run a marathon under 3 hours (after having a baby and while also starting a new business)

    Read Kimberly’s Full Gold Story on our blog

  • Sean: Training Smart to Break 3:30 | January 9, 2020

    Just over five years ago my younger brother Ruairi passed away, living in Australia. Ruairi was an endurance athlete, with a social media name “Endorphin Addict”. He ran the San Francisco Marathon one or two times, and one of the half’s. Several years ago he some how convinced my mother to run a half-marathon with him, which ultimately inspired me to start running, and I was the furthest thing from a runner at the time.

    Fast forward to the present day, I am now an ultra-runner, having completed over 30 ultra-marathons and three 100 mile races. I carry a picture of Ruairi during every single race to remind me of the life he lived, and the life he gave me with his. This will be my second running of the SF Marathon, both of which have been and will be on Ruairi’s birthday. The last time in 2015, I inspired a childhood friend of Ruairi’s to run his first marathon on his best friends birthday. That same friend will be joining me on July 26th again!

    My current running goal is to train smart and race happy. I tend to focus too much on splits and the finish line, when the journey in between and leading up to each race is what I really enjoy. With that said, I am still hoping to run a 3:30 in SF.

  • Nathan: Finding Positivity Through Running | January 8, 2020

    In 2013, my life and family suffered a serious road bump, when I was assaulted and spent several days in the hospital with 7 broken bones in my face and surrounding my orbital bone. For the years to follow, I struggled daily with balancing my healing both emotionally and physically.

    With the help of my family, and years of struggling, I finally chose to find the path that would ultimately lead me to heal and a fresh start. I decided to no longer dwell on the event, and not allow one horrible day to define me as a person. It is a privilege to live on this earth, and I was going to make sure that every day counted from start to finish.
    In Early April 0f 2018, I started with a plan and began training for my first marathon. Along with daily runs, I added meditation to my routine to give myself time to focus and reflect. I have now completed four marathons in the last year, as well as seven half marathons and I’m looking toward the Houston Marathon in January.
    My goal is to take the hand that I was dealt that day, and turn it into something positive, by sharing my story with other victims of assault and showing them that there is another way to live. Life without fear, resentment, and anger is possible, you simply have to want it.
    My gold goal is for 2020 is to qualify for the Boston Marathon and Run a Sub 3:00 Marathon!
    I completed 4 marathons in 364 days and PR’d every-time.
  • Michelle: SF Marathon Runner Says, Train Hard. Run Hard. Love Hard. Be Stronger Than Your Excuses | January 6, 2020

    With my entire heart, and all the energy I had to give from the moment I stepped up to the starting line to when I crossed the finish line, I accomplished my only marathon goal of a sub 4 hour finish,” Michelle posted on Instagram after running the 2019 San Francisco Marathon.

    It was only her third full marathon and the first time she had ever run the San Francisco Marathon. She ran it in 3:49:21, achieving her Gold Goal of running a marathon in under 4 hours.

    But, coming into the race, she wasn’t sure she would actually be able to achieve that goal, or even run the race at all.

    She had been training for the race for months before. In 2018, she had run the LA Marathon with a time of 4:29 and the year before that, she ran in San Diego at just under 5 hours. So, she had been building toward this goal that she set for herself over the last few years.

    But then, six weeks before the San Francisco Marathon, Michelle injured her knee. She wasn’t sure she would be able to run the marathon at all.

    “Going into this race I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, considering I had been resting my injured knee for 6 weeks. Although I was hopeful, I was expecting the worst,” Michelle wrote on Instagram.

    Read Michelle’s Full Gold Story on our blog

  • Jocelyn: Out To Prove The Impossible | December 21, 2019
    I’m running to break the Guinness World Record of becoming the Youngest Human (male/female or other), Youngest Woman, and Youngest Latina to Run 100 Marathons. I will be breaking 3 records. What inspired me to do this was my body, I was born with a broken back, neck and feet and I want to be an inspiration for others. To show them that it’s possible, the impossible is possible. I’m a living proof of that.
    I have ran 24 marathons in 2019, making SF Marathon one of them. Out of all the marathons I have done, SF Marathon has always scared me because of all the hills. I didn’t know if I could survive, but I did. Currently I have ran 47 marathons and next year in 2020, I will be running 50-52 marathons. Almost a marathon every weekend for 2020.
  • Joel: Fighting Cancer One Mile At A Time | December 20, 2019

    My first marathon was in 2009 (CIM, Sacramento) with my wife, an exercise physiologist who inspired me to start running. I thought that this would be a normal part of our lives, but then I was diagnosed in 2015 with stage 4 sarcoma in my leg, lungs, and liver. After 7 rounds of aggressive chemo and a lung surgery couldn’t fix the problem, I didn’t figure I’d ever run again. But in 2019, while I was still very much a cancer patient, my old college roommate challenged me to join him for a race, and we settled on the SF Marathon as our goal: his first full marathon and my first post-diagnosis/chemo/surgery marathon. The 2019 SF marathon changed the trajectory of my life, and I ended up joining the Brave Like Gabe team to run the NYC marathon – which ended up being a really big deal at the school I teach at and on the local news. Even though I still have cancer, running has given me such a big sense of purpose — not just for my own health, but in helping rally other cancer patients to show cancer that they won’t be limited. SF Marathon was a huge catalyst in that mental transformation.

    For 2020, the goal is to get back into PR range and set myself up to return to my age-in-miles birthday challenge!
  • Jennifer: Running For Fallen Soldiers | December 18, 2019

    A friend challenged me to run more than just a 10k or half marathon — the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon. I loved the whole experience of training for what seemed impossible to achieving the possible. Rather than the “one and done” I had proclaimed to the world, it would be the first of more than 190 to date. In 2014, I realized running marathons could be more than about my goals, so I started running honor fallen soldiers, and giving the sacrifices of their families the recognition they merit. I send medals to families after. Running has allowed me to make friends and get through life’s ups and downs. It is now who I am.

    In 2020, I will reach my previous goal of 56 for fallen soldiers/first responders. Never give up and never, ever forget. Currently have 196 marathons/ultras since 2012.

  • Lindsay: Finding Strength with Alopecia | December 17, 2019

    After my collegiate basketball career was over I wanted to run a marathon, at first to cross it off my bucket list. I had no idea at the time, but that dream would open so many doors for me. I fell in love with the sport and distance during that 26.2 mile run. I felt empowered, strong and the most beautiful. I am continually inspired by all of the kids I’ve gotten to meet who have Alopecia and continually to believe in cheer for me always, they inspire me to keep running and never quit.

    My favorite route is the greenway in Charlotte about 4 miles from my house. I was on a 20 mile run when I first took off my wig mid-run. It was a moment I had always dreamed of, to finally be ok and embrace my Alopecia and bald head. I run this route often, it reminds me I’m strong and also symbolizes a big race is coming up.

    My goal is to PR in the marathon this year!

  • Waldo: Inmate to Marathoner. How Running A Marathon Can Change Your Life | December 16, 2019


    On December 24, 2017, Waldo got out of prison. When he got out, he was doing well for a while, but then about a year later, he started falling into his old ways again.

    “That motivation I had within, that fire that I had within, was dying. I was going back to my old ways — going out over the weekend, partying with friends, and not coming home. Going on 3 or 4 days of binge drinking. Blowing my money. I was losing that passion, that flame, that motivation that I came out with,” Waldo remembered.

    Waldo knew that he needed a change in his life. He needed something to motivate him again to do better.

    It was around this time that he decided to give up alcohol for Lent. He became a pescetarian, and then, about halfway through Lent that year Waldo said, “You know what? I’m going to start running.”

    In March of 2019, Waldo set a Gold Goal: Run the San Francisco Marathon in July.

    Not only did he run the marathon, but he also proposed to his girlfriend at the end of his race, and he now he has an amazing new Gold Goal for 2020.

    Read Waldo’s full Gold Story on our blog

  • Marlena: Run A 50k When She Turns 50 | December 11, 2019

    I was never athletic growing up. I got overweight after two kids and developed high blood pressure. After a trip to the ED because I was concerned about possibly having a stroke, I changed my lifestyle – started eating better, joined the gym, lost weight. Then in 2015, I discovered running races. I like running around my neighborhood because I meet my neighbors along the way.

    My current running goal is to run a 50k because I will be turning 50 next year.

    I’ll be running the SF Marathon 2nd half in 2020 so I can be a part of the 52 Club again. In 2016, I ran the 2nd half, in 2017 – the first half, in 2018 – the full, and in 2019 – the first half. I’m a 5th year Loyal Runner of the San Francisco Marathon.

  • Antonio: 66 Years Old and Signed Up for 6 Half Marathons in 2020 | December 10, 2019

    In 1991, I told my daughters that I was going to do something crazy. They didn’t know what I had in mind — I was in my upper 30s. That year in July I signed up for a 1/2 marathon. They were shocked and said that I was crazy since I had never run before.

    The same year I did a 150 mile bike-a-thon. I loved what I was seeing in my body. The following year I signed up for the Chicago Marathon and I’ve been doing it ever since, a few in Disney World, Little Rock, Indianapolis, Wisconsin and of course my first in San Francisco in 2019. Next year I’ll be 66 and I have already signed up for about 6 halves.

    Running clears my mind and relaxes my body. If I feel down, tired and need energy, I put on my running shorts and go run around the airport, 4 miles.

  • Alys: 2 Goals, 10 Years Apart, Achieved In San Francisco | December 9, 2019

    The San Francisco Marathon has a special place in runner Alys’s heart because it’s where she achieved two major running goals — the first, in 2007, when she completed her first half marathon, and the second, 10 years later, when she completed her first full marathon.

    In her late teens Alys struggled with depression and anxiety and she decided to start running to “snap myself out of that.” She also wanted to lose weight and improve her health, so she decided to run her first half marathon in San Francisco in 2007. It wasn’t pretty, but she did it!

    Later, in her 20s, Alys struggled with addiction and mental health issues and was in a bad place for a few years.

    She got sober in 2015 and then started getting into running again, and started picking it up with more intensity than she had in the past. She did a 10k, she ran another half, and kept running more half marathons.

    “I wanted to see where I could take it,” Alys said. “And then I started seeing a drastic increase in my running ability. I was seeing real improvements.”

    In 2017 a friend convinced her to run the full marathon in San Francisco. She ran it with a time of 3:58, beating her goal of running in under 4 hours.

    Read Alys’s full Gold Story on our blog

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