San Francisco Marathon Back from the Dead
I first seriously considered the San Francisco Marathon back in 1998 while serving as a US Army Recruiter in Eugene Oregon. I was working with another (San Francisco area) Recruiter on some paperwork for an applicant that used to live in the bay area, and briefly debated mixing business with pleasure in the form of a road trip while finalizing the applicant’s entry into the Army. In my view, the demise of that plan which parlayed into an eight year delay for participating paid big dividends based on what I have read and what I saw at the 2006 version.
For a big city marathon in the late 1990s (when I first considered it), San Francisco was well off the radar screen. Bigger, or at least more popular and well known California Marathons such as Los Angeles and Big Sur cast an intense beam of light that almost blinded marathoners to the mere existence of San Francisco’s marathon. It was almost like one had to know it was there-or search it out.
Bring on Dean Karnazes as the as host of this years marathon. Bay area runner as well as Motivational Speaker, Author, and Ultra Marathoner (he has the record for the longest continuous run without stopping-100 miles); and thrust San Francisco’s marathon into the marathoning community spotlight. Combine that with the introduction on the course of the Golden Gate Bridge several years ago, and you realize more than 4000 finishers for this year’s marathon.
The unique waved early start sent runners off in groups beginning at 0530 for the marathoners with the fastest projected finishing times, with the slowest projected finishing times starting at 0630.
The course began at the Embarcadero/ Ferry Building ran West past Fisherman’s Warf, paralleling the West Bay before eventually crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and circling back over. Visions of my last suspension bridge run of similar magnitude came to mind (Varazanno Narrows in New York City, 1994).
I noted a runner with “all the way from Chi Town for this” written in permanent marker aback his singlet, posing while his partner took a picture mid-span, Alcatraz looming in the bay on the horizon.
The thought “this is why we run these marathons…to run across historic monuments and take a secured route foot tour of the city….came to mind. (I later learned the Chit town runner had flown all the way in from the Windy City to run in San Francisco as his first full marathon, and could not have been happier with his choice.)
On the subject of wind and weather, a nice cool breeze buffeted us as we crossed the bay on the Golden Gate, and morning temperatures remained almost perfect for marathoning the entire morning the high 50s or low 60s, with the possible exception of a slight warming toward the end of the morning for the 5:30-6:00 hour marathon runners.
After passing the famed Presidio and Richmond neighborhood (where spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean were afforded), a few of the one million trees located in Golden Gate’s 1,000 acre Park further ensured that runners kept cool and shaded, and brought visions of “Star Trek” IV to mind (when the Star Ship Enterprise landed there.)
It sure felt like an invasion when marathoners merged with all of the fresh legged second “half” marathoners near the parks entrance. (There were two half marathons associated with the days events; the first half marathon paralleled the marathon course, while the second half marathon roughly paralleled the second half of the full marathon—though I must admit it was a little confusing since the courses weren’t exactly the same).
There weren’t as many fans as one would expect based on the size of the running field but there were a few bands and I was most impressed with the banjo player at mile 23. I was surprised to note one bay area runner competing in a full suit of armor, complete with shield and sword.
We eventually passed near Martin Luther King drive, where the “promised’ Buffalo were definitely grazing, and through the Haight Ashbury District (visions of free love, Peace, and protests of the 1960s came to mind), before turning the corner past Giants Stadium and under the awe-inspiring Bay Bridge, the finish-right where we started…having only crossed the same terrain twice in one place-the Golden Gate Bridge…pretty good foresight in course development!
The following Maniacs took the San Francisco tour…
Dane Rauschenberg: 3:19:44
John “Coconutboy” Mahoney 3:29:24
Amy Yanni 3:36:25
David Reed 4:00:30
Gary Geuss 4:40:07
Dennis Spurlock 4:46:47
Blaine Phillips 5:04:48
Cynthia “Draggon” Witman 5:25:32
Marie Bartoletti 5:29:11
Eddie Hahn (Author) 5:36:00
Larry Herman 5:55:18
*All times listed are “chip”