Top 10 Reasons NOT to Run the SF Marathon
10. It's expensive. If you don't live in SF, SF is one of the most expensive places on earth to get a hotel room. The race is also more expensive than most by about $20. I know you're already paying someone to suffer like hell, but $20 is, on average a pitcher and a half of beer. See also number 5.
9. The weather. While our climate is, on average, very mild, it's also very unpredictable and the race traverses several micro-climates. Yesterday we saw drizzle, fog, wind, and then sweltering heat at the end.
8. Hell is other people. In this case about 20,000 of them. Most of which are running the shorter half-marathons and the 5k. They have never heard of this thing called race-etiquette and the organizers don't bother to mention it exists. I'm not a competitive runner, but nearly got crashed into by competitive runners trying to get around lolly-gaggers.
7. No one cheers you on. I guess there is so much happening in SF that no one really knows (or cares) that the marathon is on. I spotted all of 1 person who lived on the race course that opened her window to cheer us on. In Portland last year it seemed the entire town came out to make fun of you (I mean cheer you on). There were entire neighborhoods that had block parties and even guys holding up signs to tell you who was winning the NFL Sunday game you were missing. In defense of those that did cheer us on, one guy had Turndown For What on repeat with a sign that read, “SLOWDOWN FOR WHAT.” I high-fived him when I saw him at the end of the race.
6. A lack-luster expo that happens in the most inaccessible part of the city. I'm not sure why, but organizers thought that Fort Mason was a great place for bib-pickup and the runner's expo. Convenient for the Marina maybe, but not for anyone else. I guess they recognized that so they had school busses to and from the Hyatt (where they should have had the Expo). School busses.
5. Ugly race shirt, and no swag. I ran Portland last year and got 2 shirts, short and long sleeve, 2 medallions, a pin, a medal, flowers, a beer, AND at tree sapling. A tree sapling. I also got home from the expo and realized they gave me a women's shirt. I'm not the manliest of dudes, but shit, I don't look like a girl.
4. The Golden Gate Bridge. One might think that running over the bridge is going to be this phenomenal experience. Don't be fooled, the bridge is more crowded during the race than it is on the weekends. See also Number 8.
3. There aren't enough aid stations, not enough people at each station, and no food at any of them. Not a single pretzel or gummy bear. There were two stations with GU (which barely qualifies as food). The best part: as you get to mile 13 the first half-marathon finishes and they have piles of bananas you run past that they hand to the runners WHO DON'T HAVE TO RUN ANYMORE. The banana-tease is evil. Speaking of evil…
2. The course is Evil. As a long-time SF resident I've found the ways to get around our hilly town through the flats. Route planners thought it'd be fun to take us to the Wiggle then run us up hill past it. In the last 5 miles there are a series of small climbs where I took note of many runners not just walking, but stopped. Some hunched over about to puke, others sitting, some lying down. I'm not the only one who also thinks the SF course is tough. SF made it onto The Weather Channel's World's 15 Toughest Marathons and The Wall Street Journal called it The Race Even Marathoners Fear.
1. The most compelling reason and most glaring ineptitude of the organizers was seen in the lines for the bathrooms. If there is anything that a well-hydrated runner will need to do before a race, it's take a piss. There are about 16,000 people at the start of the race and I've not seen lines this long for anything. To give you an idea of the runner to bathroom ratio, I started in the last wave and when I got to my start corral, there were a few hundred runners in line for 5 porta potties. Needless to say, there were a lot of angry bladders at the start.
Anyway… Don't be fooled by the photo, I'm only smiling because I DON'T HAVE TO TRAIN FOR THIS MARATHON ANYMORE.