Every June, July, or August in San Francisco, city streets get taken over by several thousand hardcore runners looking to compete in the San Francisco Marathon, which also caters to a good dose of less-strident athletes... ... read more
Every June, July, or August in San Francisco, city streets get taken over by several thousand hardcore runners looking to compete in the San Francisco Marathon, which also caters to a good dose of less-strident athletes with two half-marathons and a 5K run held concurrently.
Taking place annually since 1977, this San Francisco race has seen its route change several times over its history, but always passes several notable SF landmarks, including AT&T park, the waterfront buildings of The Embarcadero, and the Aquatic Park in the Marina.
The biggest draw for runners, however, is undoubtedly the section of the SF marathon route that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge, which opens entirely for pedestrian use during the event, enabling participants to run in the street all the way across this iconic structure and (briefly) into Marin County.
The San Francisco Marathon is often used as a qualifying race for the much larger Boston Marathon, and though prize packages have varied from a t-shirt for the ’77 race winner to several thousand dollars in more recent years, the lack of a regular large purse makes the race less appealing to elite athletes.
Still, nearly 20,000 people have donned their shoes and given the SF Marathon a try each year since the millennium, with about a quarter of those finishing – and just a few hundred qualifying for Boston.
For those select few who think a marathon is too easy, officials also hold an Ultramarathon during the event, which runs the marathon’s route twice for a whopping 52.4 miles of blistered “fun.”
Advanced entry fees for the SF Marathon are $90 for the full, $75 for the half-marathon, and $30 for the 5K run. SF marathon fees can change every year, however, so interested participants should check the venue’s official site for an updated price list. Participants looking to compete in the Ultramarathon need to pony up $150 (and you must qualify for the Ultra in advance by joining one of the six Worth The Hurt Athlete Teams and raising a minimum of $1,500 for that team’s cause).
In order to receive an official time for the San Francisco Marathon, all runners must finish in under six-hours.
Bus services for spectators ($5–$20 depending on route selection and on/off privileges) are available during the event, but advanced booking is recommended as these tickets often sell out. Live bands at the San Francisco Marathon set up along several locations throughout the route, so those looking to watch the race with a little musical backdrop should check the official site’s ENTERTAINMENT section to see what bands are playing and where.
Whether you can run the race in sub-three hours or walk it in half a day, the San Francisco Marathon is a great city race with amazing views along its route that just might help you forget that nail slowly peeling off your big toe with each stride.