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San Francisco Marathon Reviews


4.7 Stars from 10 Runners





  Very tough course, but super fun

By about 2017


Review

The SF marathon is incredibly well organized and a great experience for racers. The course is punishing so don't expect to crush your PRs (unless they are pretty stale and ready to be crushed) - just brace yourself for the hills and enjoy the run through a scenic tour of SF's greatest sights!


Race Tips

The hills keep coming so don't burn yourself out too quickly. Once you get out of golden gate park (around mile 16) it's practically all flat/downhill to the end, with only a couple of minor uphills.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

I always took Uber to the start line area (having lived in Berkeley) and that worked well for me. Arrive about an hour before start time.


5 / 5 Stars


  Perfect weather for running!

By about 2017


Review

This was my first marathon and for me it was the perfect weather for running! However, it is very hilly- both uphill and downhill. I felt that the organization was very good and the corrals were not very packed. Water, electrolytes etc all along the race when needed.


Race Tips

I would recommend starting slow until Fort Mason hill, and then trying to get your pace before the Golden Gate. Try to save for the second half, specially the first part of the 2nd half in Golden Gate Park gains some good amount of elevation up to the lake. For me, the last hill in Mariposa Street justgetting off the Mission kind of made me hit the wall so be aware of those last hills! That's like mile 23-24. Even if they are short, they are not welcome!


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

I booked a lyft in advance to the race and it worked really well, I booked it for 4.20-4.30am and was there at 4.45am. Plenty of time to use the bathroom, eat a gel, stretch etc. Also the corral for the 5.32am start didn't open until approximately 5am and it said it closed at 5.20am so there's no point in being too early as the access is easy if you arrive in a Lyft.

Just before the race you can even easily pee so don't worry about that, just jump the fence and pee into the sea with an amazing Bay Bridge view.


5 / 5 Stars


  Absolutely gorgeous

By about 2017


Review

San Francisco is a beautiful city and every runner should experience the San Francisco Marathon. I was very nervous since it was my first marathon, and had read several reviews about the hills and lack of supporters. I am not sure if it was the excitement of running my first marathon or the beautiful route that took us through some of my favorite neighborhoods such as the Haight, the Golden Gate bridge(it was awesome) and fisherman's wharf, I had an absolute blast. I only walked/jogged a few water stations, and a couple of the hills and ran all of it. There weren't many people cheering us on the street (the race started at 5:30AM) but the few who did were amazing. I don't recommend this race for a PR or for a BQ unless you are very fast and can train for the hills but definitely run it once.


Race Tips

San Francisco is very hilly but the marathon isn't that bad. Walk or slow down at the hills. The course is amazing and you would be tempted to take pictures (most people did at the golden gate bridge) but I personally don't recommend stopping cause its harder to start again. And Have fun!


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Do not drive.


5 / 5 Stars


  Not a Pure Marathon

By about 2017


Review

Half marathoners (both First and Second Half) run at the same time as marathoners, so at times the course is very congested (especially on the GG bridge), and you will be boxed in. At other times, half marathoners will be flying past you (particularly in GG Park, where the Second Halfers start their course with fresh legs), so pacing is difficult. I never could find my rhythm in this course. The scenery should be better, but with such an early start in the summer, it's almost a guarantee that most of the lovely views will be shrouded in fog. The Golden Gate Bridge could have been any bridge I was running across, it was so blanketed.


Race Tips

The elevation chart doesn't quite do this one justice. While the course circumnavigates the really tough hills in the middle of the city, it still climbs. The Fort Mason hill at Mile 2.5 is your wake-up call, and then comes the toughest climb of the course just after Mile 5: the ascent from sea level to the Golden Gate Bridge. Don’t expect the bridge to be flat either (its an arc), and beware the slippery steel girders that should have been covered by mats in such a heavy fog. After the bridge comes your second toughest climb at Mile 10 as you make your way through the Presidio above Baker Beach. Golden Gate Park is no picnic either, with a slow steady uphill from Miles 14-16, and more uphill around Mile 18. Save something for your last major uphill in the Mission District around Mile 22.5. But as tiring as the uphills are, the downhills really trash your quads, especially the steep descent in the Haight-Ashbury around Mile 20.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

The gear check process was a nightmare. The UPS trucks for the full marathoners were late and volunteers were only just beginning to place signs out, so most of the Wave 2 marathoners had to chuck their bags on the ground and hope for the best, then sprint to their corral. I got into my corral one minute before start-time, thoroughly stressed. At the end of the race, it was an unnecessarily long walk for the full marathoners to retrieve their bags. I do recommend staying at the Hyatt Regency, however, which is within easy walking distance to the start and offered runners an extended 1 PM checkout time and a recovery room with post-race massage.


2 / 5 Stars


  Stay Humble

By about 2017


Review

The SFM is a very hilly marathon and you need to keep yoursef in check when encountering the hills. Lots of people bonked during the marathon because they were trying to power up the hils. I trained with a lot of hills and even I kept myself at bay because they keep coming and coming. I ran with 4 friends so we kept reminding each other to "stay humble." Its super fun though.


Race Tips

Stay humble and do not waste energy trying to power up hills.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

TSFM's challenging course takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of this gorgeous city. It is more hilly than a typical city marathon course. But the organizers managed to find a flat start and a flat final six miles to take the edge of the hills in the middle. In the US, there are no better summer marathons than TSFM.


Race Tips

Be careful on the downhills. At the 10-mile mark, a one-mile downhill begins. It get steeper as it goes down, which results in some runners breaking too much and other runners getting ahead of themselves.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

The race starts very early--5:30 AM--so stay in a hotel near the start.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

The San Francisco Francisco Marathon offers a scenic course through one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Not surprisingly, given the city's topography, the course is hilly. But the course also manages to cover some of the flattest parts of the city--especially the first 5 and final 6 miles of the race.

One part of the course that many first-time SF Marathon runners often think will be flat, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, is actually a hill in both directions. The climb to the middle of the bridge is not to steep, but it is worth factoring into your race strategy.

The finish is exhilarating, the race organizers really know how to organize an exciting race.


Race Tips

Expect chilly weather even though the race is in July. San Francisco is consistently ranked as one of the best cities for running in the US because the weather is almost always perfect for running. If you've been training all summer in a hot climate, get ready for some relief in the coolest summer marathon in the country. Typical temperatures at the early-morning start are in the 50s.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Arrive early. This race starts at 5:30, well before sunrise.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Great run through the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio, Crissy Field, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Asbury, Mission, Dogpatch.


Race Tips

Most of the big climbs are on the first half so don't overdo it and plan to negative split by 3+ minutes.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Walk to the start/finish from the Hyatt host hotel.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Lovely run through a beautiful city!


Race Tips

Yes, there are hills. This is not really a PR course. Also, know that in July, there is usually fog in the morning. You MIGHT get lucky and get views while running over the Golden Gate bridge, but if that is your main aim, you may be disappointed. It is just as likely to be socked in, as it was in 2016, in which case it is just a damp run over and back over a piece of highway (drive back over in the afternoon after the race when it's likely to be sunny).


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

San Francisco is expensive! Plan ahead. Race starts super early, before the subways and buses, so plan on using taxi or Lyft or Uber (at 100% surcharge)


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2012


Review

Weather was perfect, awesome views. Well organized.


Race Tips

Hold back until mile 17, then push from there.

Bridge can be slippery.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Stayed at Hotel Vitale, right on Starting Line.


5 / 5 Stars





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