I would most certainly rate this race/course in my top 5 most beautiful and scenic races. As I was plodding along I was mentally ranking them:
1. Big Sur....hands down, no doubt about it. Absolutely breath taking.
2. San Francisco Marathon and half
3. Seattle Marathon
4. Tacoma City
5. Portland Marathon
6. Las Vegas Rock n Roll HALF---not the full...the second half of the marathon was the most boring, industrial scenery I have ever experienced in my life. Miles 1-13.1 are along the strip and now at night. Beautiful and fun.
7. Virginia Beach Rock n Roll -but I cannot under any circumstance recommend this race. Ever. Not without feeling so guilty and extreme anxiety for you, your life, and your wellbeing. I think I almost died in this race. It's held Labor Day weekend and it's so hot and humid. I lost count of all the people I saw being taken away by ambulance, in the medical tents, getting IV fluid, one having a heat stroke, and one person died on the course. This, in my opinion, is a very irresponsible time to have a race of this distance. So yeah, pretty but not worth it.
I'll still stay I have never experienced a race that comes anywhere near the local support, crowd, and all around experience as the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Ever.
I didn't mean to make this a review of races, maybe I'll thoroughly review and rank my races one of these days.
I really enjoyed this race but I did notice that the local support was lacking. One of the water stops was so understaffed that the cups were empty and they couldn't fill them fast enough for the runners to get any. There were small sections with cheering family members, locals here and there watching from their windows or door steps. Toward the end of the first half there was a nice sized cheering crowd. The ones who were out were so friendly and enthusiastic. One man, a worker I believe, on the Golden Gate Bridge, was cheering and high-fiving anyone and everyone who came along. He was so cool! But overall the sense of community surrounding this race was lacking. But that's OK and really doesn't detract from the overall experience. It's just different. The scenery and views were amazing, even with the San Francisco fog.
With a 5:30 race start for the first half I was worried that it would still be too dark and I wouldn't get to enjoy the views. But the sun came up and I could see everything around me just fine.
Pre race selfie....
Starting line view of the bay bridge!
Ghirardelli!! Mmm.... I was thinking how nice it would have been to get a nice piece of chocolate!
Alcatraz in the distance!
And of course the Golden Gate Bridge! 1.7 miles across on direction! This was a fun part of the race! Windy and chilly but also just awesome!
At about mile 8.7, halfway across the bridge on the way back, I finally felt lose, warmed up, my calves loosened up, and I got my second wind, or maybe my first wind. Up to this point I felt slow and tight. So I picked up the pace a bit and just cruised right on along....
I heard some lady tell her friend, after a huge awful hill, that it was all downhill from here. I turned a corner and saw right in front of me a huge hill. I felt sorry for her friend. I felt sorry for me. It was steep but short(ish) so I did the only thing I could do. I put one door in front of the other and overtook that stupid hill.
I knew my Garmin was off by a little bit, as usual, due to running the tangents, or not. And weaving and dodging. So when I hit mile 13 and didn't see the finish anywhere in sight I just had to remind myself it was close. I was close!
When I did see the finish I was so glad to be done at mile 13.1 and not going on for 26.2. I came on in to the finish line and as always felt a huge sense of pride and a smile across my face. Another one in the books and I survived.
Of course the signature pose....
And there you have it, San Francisco First Half Marathon.
I met a couple of nice ladies on the course from Tulsa, OK (because I forgot my headphones and that gave me an opportunity to be present in the race and not antisocial) who may have convinced me to do Tulsa Route 66 in November. I've toyed with the idea of this race for a while now so we shall see....That might just be what's next.