Why do I travel from CT to CA to run the San Francisco marathon?

There are so many reasons why I keep coming back to run The San Francisco marathon.  I want to share some of the highlights.  It’s not just for the love for the San Francisco area, it’s this amazing race and so many great things about it that keep bringing back! This year will be my 5th consecutive time running!

Here are some highlights of why I keep coming back!

Perfect Weather:  Running in New England in July proves to be very difficult and HOT!  Running a marathon in the heat and humidity is tough let alone training for a marathon!  I coach a fall marathon group that begins the first week in July.  Due to the heat and humidity, we have to include water stops every 2-3 miles.  It is also critical for the runners to have an ice buckets with cold clothes at the end to cool down.  Last year one of our new participants experience heat exhaustion.  It was quite scary.  The San Francisco marathon has had perfect running conditions the last 5 years.  The start of the race is chilly and by the time we head over the famous Golden Gate Bridge, the sun is beginning to poke out and the fog acts as a blanket to keep us cool.  I can recall looking down on my arms as I crossed the bridge thinking “This can’t be sweat, I’m not even warm”, but then soon realizing moisture was from the mist of the fog.  Having ideal weather also is a nice way to PR and/or just to have an enjoyable race experience.

The Expo: If you run a lot of races then I’m sure you’ve experienced a bunch of Expo’s.  How many Expo’s did you enjoy enough to sign up to volunteer?  Well, I technically volunteer each year at our local marathon, but I also volunteer each year at the San Francisco marathon expo.  Last year I volunteered as a greeter.  How cool was that I was able to meet the runners that were participating. One guy I greeted ended up running with us around mile 18!  That was pretty cool!   I loved that I had the opportunity to meet so many great people in CA.  It’s just the participants but also the vendors.  They get top notch vendors where I’ve been able to sample product that I love and still train with! Some of these products aren’t available yet on the East Coast.  The vendors are pretty generous and helpful providing samples to bring home and also help direct how to order more when I run out.

The Course:  I can’t tell you how many people have approached me and said “Wow!  San Francisco has to be one hilly course, are you crazy?  That has to be so hard”!  I have to admit, of all the marathons I’ve run (60 to date), San Francisco is one of the fastest courses.  The hills aren’t so long that they are overwhelming, they are short enough to be able to power up and then get the downhill to recover.  I think having hill training is important, but not so much for the uphill but more for the downhill so you don’t power down too fast and get hurt. 

There are also certain sections that stand out to me as the most beautiful scenic parts of the course. 

The start:  Running through Fisherman’s Wharf is pretty cool.  If you’ve ever experienced this area in the day time, it’s typically pretty jammed with tourist and street vendors. It’s not very calm or quiet, as the area seems to be non-stop with activity. Getting to run though this area early in the morning is a quite surreal.  The sounds of the crowds in the day time are replaced with the silence of the footsteps of runners.  This loud silence is too hard to describe unless you’ve run here. You also get the opportunity to explore so much more that you’ve miss during the daytime.

Golden Gate Bridge:  My Bucket list had always been to run over the Golden Gate Bridge.  This race is so spectacular that not only do you get to run over it 1 time, you get to enjoy it again; it’s an out and back.  Looking ahead at all the runners coming back from the turnaround and getting to cheer for the leaders is pretty cool!  The experience also gives you bragging rights forever!  I love watching TV with friends and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and nodding with a smile saying “I ran over that bridge”.   

Lincoln Blvd:  This section comes as quite a treat after a big climb of rolling uphill’s.  The view as you crest the top are the most beautiful ocean scenes. I can recall last year hearing runners saying “OMG – Look at the ocean”!  It’s just breathtaking.  You get to continue to experience these spectacular views as you begin your descend down the rolling hills too. 

Golden Gate Park:  Where else can you see bison and botanical gardens in the same location?  Certainly not in Connecticut!  This is also the finish for the ½ marathoners so you get quite a big cheering section when you run by. 

The Finish:  What a fun post-race party!  There are so many vendors and so much food!  Last year we stuck around and were able to get so many free samples and make a bunch of new friends.  The positive flow of people is pretty unique.  I can’t help but think that these folks just experienced this amazing marathon.  How can they NOT be positive! 

The San Francisco marathon is one of the bigger races that I’ve run, but the logistics, volunteers, and the spectacular course gives this big race the same comfort of a hometown feeling as I’ve experienced at smaller venues. There seems to be a new experience each year I run.  It’s hard to take it all in when you’re running a marathon, simply because you ARE running a marathon!  I love that I can come back year and year and get to enjoy this beautiful city, run these amazing streets and relive my bucket list! 

Looking forward to 2019

Jeanne Corey Marchand

San Francisco Marathon Ambassador 2017, 2019

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