Conquering The Race Even Marathoners Fear

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.

The San Francisco Marathon Course Map

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.

With my sister at the start line!
With my sister at the start line!

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.

Running the Golden Gate
Running the Golden Gate

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!

Killer hills, man!

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!

Author: Tori Sardillo

Hey readers, welcome to Bear Talk! My name is Viktoria Sardillo—Tori for short. I am a second year Molecular and Cell Biology major, originally from Apple Valley, California. In addition to leading tours as a Campus Ambassador, I am involved in VMO (Volunteers for Medical Outreach), PAHC (Pilipino Association for Health Careers), PCN (Pilipino Cultural Night) Dancing Cast, and Cal Triathlon. I am fiercely passionate about human health and wellbeing, and believe that the key to collegiate success is striking a balance between academics and personal/extracurricular commitments. UC Berkeley is a beautiful, dynamic place where I am constantly inspired and challenged to become the best person I can be—I hope that by sharing my stories, you too can catch a glimpse of Berkeley’s magic. Thanks for reading and GO BEARS!