Did you know, the event that the Wall Street Journal dubs “the race even marathoners fear” is hosted exactly 13.6 miles away from Berkeley? Well it is—and that event is called The San Francisco Marathon.
Hosting approximately 26,000 runners from all over the world, The San Francisco Marathon is known for its amazing views of Fisherman’s Warf, its spectacular course along the Golden Gate Bridge, and, most importantly, its killer hills winding throughout the steepest inclines throughout SF. It’s a thrilling and gratifying experience, and best of all, it’s well within commuting distance from Berkeley!
This year, after a spot of training in Berkeley, I packed my bags, laced up my running shoes, and made my way to SF (via BART, of course) to conquer the infamous “race even marathoners fear.”
The cool thing about The San Francisco Marathon is that it is split up into sections: you can elect to run the first half (completing a 13.1 mile race), the second half (also completing a 13.1 mile race), or the full marathon (a whopping 26.2 miles!). This makes the event really friendly for runners looking for a great race, but are only “half”—get it, like half marathon—crazy enough to endure the pain of a full 26.2 miles. This year, I elected to do the full marathon, to really embrace the event’s slogan “worth the hurt.”
Before the race, I showed up to the Runner’s Health Expo to pick up my race packet, including my race bib (a piece of paper with a runner’s race ID number printed across it), free race t-shirt, and a few free snacks. After that, the day was spent mentally preparing myself for tomorrow’s big event. Thankfully, I also knew a couple friends from Cal that would also be running the half marathon, so I had a support system to lean on to calm the nerves.
I woke up at 4am on Sunday morning, July 31st, and just one hour later, the SF Marathon began. The race was absolutely astounding—it started with a frosty morning huddled around the start line with thousands of fellow runners, and made way to a perfectly cloudy race day around the beautiful bay.
Running across the Golden Gate was simply amazing, and the way the large crimson peaks of the bridge poked out through the fog was absolutely breathtaking.
The hills were definitely challenging, but after 4 hours and 15 minutes, I finally crossed the finish line and realized the challenge was most definitely worth it. The training running around campus (and no doubt charging the hills between classes) most definitely paid off!
Now, just a few hours post marathon, I’m typing this article still hyped up on endorphins and excited to share my stories with my friends back at Berkeley. I’m glad that the Berkeley Hills were conveniently close to SF, and served as the perfect place to train. I definitely can’t wait to run this race again—hopefully even next year for the 40th anniversary of The San Francisco Marathon. Until then, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have to stretch for a bit, eat a ton of food, and hibernate for the next week—I’ve got to recuperate too, you know!