*The Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco is the largest women’s marathon in the world and the 8th largest half. 5,000 people ran the full and 15,000 ran the half. This is the 6th year that Nike’s been doing this event. The money raised goes to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.*
To get into the race, you have to be picked in the lottery. I think that once you run it, you automatically get in the next year. This is the 2nd year I’ve ran it. Entry is $100 for the half and $120 for the full.
Considering how big the race is, the expo was run pretty efficiently, no long lines or waits. There were a couple free samples: Kashi cereal, Safeway smoothies, and Luna moons energy chews. The expo wasn’t amazing by any means, but it wasn’t bad either. The Nike stuff for sale was pretty pricey but what do you expect? I never buy anything from the expos because it’s so overpriced, but for the people who do, I guess it was an average expo.
My only complaint is that they ran out of the time corral tags and bags. Didn’t the race officials know how many participants were going to be there since it was a capped entry???
This was a little chaotic as you can imagine with 20k people. I started in the wrong corral which was completely MY fault, but I got the feeling that a lot of TNT walkers and casual runners started in WAY TOO FAST corrals because I kept passing them for miles and miles. Don’t tell me your walking an 8 or 9 minute mile ’cause I don’t believe it.
The race started on time which is a big plus in my book. I hate when races start late. I thought there were adequate porta potties at the start, but I read other reviews where people said there weren’t….
This is a hard, hilly course with steep hills and descents, but it’s also a really beautiful, interesting course. You run by the water, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, see the Golden Gate Bridge, gorgeous, exclusive neighborhoods, green parks, and end up by the water again. There’s a huge JUMBOTRON around mile 9.5 with a camera so you can see yourself which was fun. Definitely not a PR course but a visually exciting one.
There was water and gatorade every couple miles, but they were super crowded and slowed you way down. Maybe there weren’t enough people manning the stations or too many participants but this wasn’t efficient. For some reason I didn’t like the aid stations and the way they were set up.
People handed out orange slices, bananas, and Luna moons at different miles; I’m a little impartial to gels, but until I start the SkinnyRunner Marathon, I don’t always get my way.
Also at mile 12 Ghiradelli chocolates were being given out, but I didn’t take one because who wants chocolate when they’re sweating like a pig and trying to burn some calories?
Why you run: the tuxedo’ed firemen with the Tiffany necklaces awaiting you.
This is fun because it’s unlike any other race and so overtly girly. And that iconic blue box and white bow just does something to a girl that makes you forget about time corrals, mile splits, and luna moons.
At the finish there were bananas, yogurt and granola, bagels, and water. We were also given a coupon for a case of water at Safeway, a Luna bar, and one of those mylar heat blanket sheets. Kinda standard, again nothing amazing outside of the Tiffany necklaces.
The finish line is right near the water and at 9am, it’s chilly and windy. If you have a boyfriend who’s there with a sweatshirt for you, marry him because you will be cold. Also, important note: the finish line is nowhere near the start line; think about transportation which won’t be your legs after this course.
The finisher’s technical tee was nice because it’s cut for a woman and didn’t come from the Big&Tall store like some do:
I read a lot of reviews on the race, and some things that other people brought up and I absolutely agree with:
*The bus system sucked. The finish line was miles from the start so there were buses but if you weren’t TNT, you had to wait a LONG time for one. We suffered through this last year and waited for about 45 mins. This year hubby drove. much better.
*This is a heavy, HEAVY Team in Training event. There are a lot of TNT walkers. Some people felt like they weren’t included and cheered for because they weren’t TNT. (This wasn’t a big deal to me personally, but being a crazed woman, I can see how it could be to some peeps.)
*The event website was created by someone who hates women and running. This is the absolutely worst website around; it’s Nike’s blog so all they do is pimp their own products. You can’t find any actual information about the race on there. I tried looking for the start time and all I could find was Nike endorsed crap so I had to call someone. lame. (This was my #1 complaint with the race.)
*The corral system needs to be fixed or reformed somehow, as I previously stated. We’re all there to have a good time, but it’s unfair to the 7 min milers (not that I am one!) when the 20 min walkers are starting right beside them.
I think the “attitude” of this event is more to gather up the girls and have a good time rather than race for time. If you’re not doing Team in Training, this might not be your race because you might feel a little left out. It’s a beautiful, difficult course, the Tiffany necklaces are fun, and would be a great event for a casual runner, but the small details noticed by more serious runners are a little off. I probably wouldn’t run this event again if I weren’t doing it with a friend… but I’m sure Reese and I will be there next year!
Overall I’d give this race a 7.68 out of 10.
Remember, this is just my opinion; your experience might be totally different than mine. And I didn’t run the full so I can’t comment on the last 13.1… which now that I think of it, makes this a half-butt review.
*As with most BIG races, if you can afford it, come a day early and get a hotel AS CLOSE TO THE START as you can. This race starts in Union Square so unless you want a death match, don’t mix driving, parking, and 20,000 impatient, having to go pee runners at 6am. Stay near the start, sleep in a little and walk to it. Come a day early to get settled, get all your crap together and enjoy the city a little.
*Figure out your exit plan. How are you gonna get back to your hotel after the race? If you take the busses, you will wait. Jay drove down to the finish and parked a little ways away in a residential area, about a 10 min walk. This was a nice cooldown and way better than waiting 45 mins for a bus.
*Have clothes at the finish line waiting for you or a blanket or something. It will be cold and you will be sweaty. And if you’re not, you cheated. Cheater!
*Run with your own drinks and eats. Maybe it was just me, but I didn’t think the refreshments and nourishments were adequate for a race this caliber. Bring your hydro belt and some gels, pizza slices, donuts, whatever you eat on your run.