Wednesday, August 5, 2009

San Francisco Marathon Race Ratings

Overall Race Rating (weighted): 2.8/5.0
Average Calculated Rating: 3.2/5.0
~ Upon completing the race I had a number of people ask me "how was it??" And I couldn't seem to muster up any sort of excitement and simply replied "it's over!" When the very best part of the race is having it done and over with that is never good. It was a nice trip to California and it was VERY cool to run across the GG bridge... but other than that, the race greatly lacked in overall organization! I know it's one of the bigger races, but I've seen other larger races go off with more organization and energy than this.

Race Director: Let's play race director! What would I change?...
~ Ditch the eco-friendly cups, or find larger sized ones! Since the race is so early, follow the lead of some smaller races... make a "neighborhood competition" for which area has the most spirit-- let the runners vote! Please ditch the second half, half-marathoners! The first half is enough to deal with them as they speed by at mile 13, knowing you have 13 more to go-- we don't need them doing the same at mile 26! If the start/finish is in a major metro area, make the expo there too! There were plenty of buildings/centers to have it! The waves... I see the point, but there has to be a more organized way of doing it. This race really isn't THAT big.

Organization: 2.5/5.0
~ CUPS!!!! This was my biggest complaint about the race. Those eco friendly cups were TINY and made it very hard to stay hydrated. I usually carry a water bottle so I only have to slow down to fill up 2 or 3 times. But with such little cups, I would have needed to stop for a long time to fill cup after cup or stop at every water station. This was unexpected and unpleasant. Also, if you read the last post there were some serious issues with timing. My time was off by approx 25 minutes from where I expected it to be. Albeit, 25 minutes FASTER, it was still off.
Course: 4.5/5.0
~ The course was definitely cool! We got to cross the golden gate bridge TWICE... although hilly, it was definitely fun for an out-of-stater. The course also took you through a couple of the parks, providing some shade, including one with bison??? Who knew!
~Point Loss: The timing of the race made it so we were running across the bridges and up a few major hills in a LOT of fog! The fog was difficult to breath in and made it difficult to see too far ahead in the course.

Spectators: 3.2/5.0
~ There were spectators throughout a lot of the race, but spirits weren't very high. Water stations had very little cheering, but we'll cut them a break since the race started SO early.

Pace Group: 2.0/5.0
~ Since I was one of the pacers I'm allowed to be this judgmental. A lot of the groups seemed really on pace and pretty high spirited. However, with the confusion in the 3:50 group (mine) as well as the delay between wave starts, pacing seemed to help very few.

Runner/Corrals: 3.0/5.0
~ The race went off in "waves" which I supposed they put in from comments last year, however these weren't ideal. The waves were heavily weighted in the middle groups (3 &4) which made for some delay starting. Also, they put a few too many minutes between waves, creating a situation where pacers were almost void. Depending on where people started, they could attempt to estimate how they were running based on pacers. The runners were very quite the whole race-- very little spirit. I don't know if that's a California thing or if the hills were just a little much for everyone!
Expo: 3.2/5.0
~ I had heard the expo was a little small in the past for the size of the race, but we were assured (via a message from the director on marathon that they were working on the expo. The expo seemed to be pretty big, but some of the booths were a little unusual and looked to be space fillers. They DID have a booth selling major brand shoes for only $50. I got a new pair of the under armor footsleeves that I've been dying to get but hadn't wanted to spend the money. The location was NOT ideal... fairly out of the way from downtown and not even close to the race start/finish area. The expo itself was also a little messy... the race merchandise had very little available by early afternoon the day before the race. Good point... you COULD meet Dean and Bart!!!

Swag: 4.1/5.0
The TShirt they gave out was a nice tech T with a basic design. The medals were pretty neat. They are "coaster" medals. I didn't know what this meant before the race, but apparently there are little tabs on the backside of the medal so that it can be easily used as a drink coaster. That was different


  1. Hmm, doesn't sound so great overall. Thanks for the review!

    At least you crossed California off the list. :)

    (I think I would HATE the idea of sharing both halves of the course with halfers.)

  2. Love your reviews! Sounds like they could change a few things. But a coaster medal? Never heard of such a thing, neat!

  3. Great review. I got annoyed with the relay runners at Vermont, so I would have been irritated with the fresh half runners as well. That medal sounds interesting.

  4. Where was the expo this year? Last year it was on a pier pretty close to the start/finish. They did have waves last year though, and I found them to be very helpful; however, it's hard to get pumped about the start when there's no gun and it's just a guy saying "go" every few minutes. One start would be much better for morale, though I do think it would be a nightmare to run.

    Did you ever get the timing thing sorted out? That's the most important part of the race!

  5. Great review.. Wow you should be a race oraganizer you notice everything..

  6. I think you're being too harsh with your pace group rating. I actually thought this was one of the best parts of SFM (next to the course).

    There were many different groups to choose from, and seeing the pacers on the course definitely helped me. I didn't actually run with pacers much, but during the times I did, I know the other marathoners were getting a lot out of it.

    I haven't posted about my SFM experience yet, but will in the coming days.

  7. Always love your reviews. Think I'll steal your rating system for my blog. I think I do enough races to make some sort of rating system for them.

  8. great review. Had SF high on my list of to do races. Might rethink it. I cant stand major races have bad organization... thats just not cool

  9. Stephanie: I notice this is YOUR blog and YOUR opin. thank for YOUR opin. on each Marathon, others should write on their OWN blog about the marathons if they dont share YOUR opin. this is AMERICA

  10. Hmm, that anonymous comment looks like it might be directed at me. I'm sorry, I thought what I wrote was fair game for the "Comments" section, but maybe I came across wrong.

    If I didn't enjoy and appreciate Stephanie's point of view, I wouldn't be here reading her site, and I certainly wouldn't be linking to it from my own blog.

  11. ooooooohk this blog welcomes all people's opinions on races. Everyone has a different race experience. Thanks everyone for following along and contributing!!!!

    Happy Running!