Last Sunday (March 26th) – The Rock ‘n’ Roll series came to San Francisco to host their annual Half Marathon race. With over 6,000+ runner, this race is one of the more popular running races in the city.
What made this race much better was that is was my father-in-law’s first half marathon distance (He caught the running bug last year). If you know anything about The City (aka San Francisco), then you know there are more hilly roads than flat roads. That said, most of the race was either running uphill or downhill. Here is the breakdown for the Race –
- My finish time of 1:36:59, a 7:24 minute/mile pace.
- Iconic San Francisco hilly course – including the Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio, & many more neighborhoods
- Great on-course support: Standard water stations & the inspirational hill at Mile 2
- However, there is room to improve pre-race logistics…more below.
Expo – This is where I thought the organization of the race fell short. Expo was open on Friday night (4-hours) & Saturday @ Pier 35. This is a very congested area, located within short walking distance to popular Fisherman’s Wharf.
Car parking for 6,000+ participants is somewhat of a nightmare. Usually, to pick up all the race material at an expo will take about 30-45 minutes. On the RnR website, the preferred parking garages had rates between $18-$60. We were “fortunate” to find a nearby garage for $20.
Bib pickup was a pain point judging by some of the comments on social media. RnR requires all participants to pick up their own bib & race material at the expo. It is common practice for races to let your friends or family pick up race material, when you are not able to attend the expo.
Full marathons like Chicago or Boston have a “Runners must pick up their own material” policy since security is much tighter at these prestigious races. RnR Series is a well known race, but they should have a more lax policy since they are not quite the level of world class races. Just my $.02
Race Day experience was a breath of fresh air compared to the Expo. The race started at 6:30am because reserving the Golden Gate Bridge for 6,000+ crazy runners requires an earlier start! Weather was in the 50’s & overcast (it rained later that night) – perfect running climate.
The initial 2-miles is a straight uphill climb from Golden Gate Park to the Presidio, which then leads to the Golden Gate Bridge. I kept telling myself, “If I can make it to the bridge without dying, then I can finish the race!”
Mile 2 is the Inspiration mile – While it is a steep uphill, the road is closed only to runners & is lined with Men/Women/Children each holding the USA flag. Next to each flag bearer is a picture of a fallen soldier…When I saw this, I was not even thinking about the race anymore, but rather about the picture of each soldier along the course. WOW, this is what got me going!
Mile 3.5 – 8 is the Golden Gate Bridge! Three lanes of the bridge were closed just for the race, where the runners were able to run back & forth across the entire bridge. YES, many runners had their phones out taking pictures with the biggest grin on their faces. It is not everyday you get to run on the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge!
Mile 8-11 is the flat part of the course that transitions to the final Downtown miles. Though the section is flat, coming from the previous hilly miles puts additional strain on the legs. *I started to feel a slight cramp, but quickly started the Breathing technique* to help temper down the cramping sensation. This part of the course was in Crissy Field, which hugs the San Francisco Bay (absolutely beautiful to run through).
Mile 11-Finish is the final stretch, nothing to rave about here expect for the mostly downhill to the finish line. There is a small rolling hill coming out of Crissy Field, but the downhill was a nice treat for the last part. Not much spectator support in this area until you reach the finish area.
At the finish line – the music was on full blast, DJ was rattling off names from the finishers, & medals were being handed out by the volunteers. It was a perfect weather day to run with 6,000+ friends & the father-in-law now has a PR to go after 😉
I will have the weekly training plan for this race posted soon…
Final Impression: 7.5/10. Whether you are a Bay Area local or visiting from afar, the course itself is the reason to participate! Not many people can say they had the opportunity to run on the ROADS of the Golden Gate Bridge.
*If you are interested in running in 2018, there is a crazy $59 Sale until April 2nd. HOT Deal!!!
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