Overall Rating
Overall Rating (16 Reviews)
3.1
(16 Ratings)(16 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.5
SCENERY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SWAG
3.5
The Berkeley Half Marathon offers an outstanding tour of an exceptional city. Founded with the help of key community players and rooted in charity fundraising, this community-inspired race has something for everyone! Experience the best of Berkeley in this loop course by tracing vibrant Shattuck Avenue, winding through the serene … MORE
Local Weather (Nov 17)
2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
 
H (°F) 61 60 61 63 64
L (°F) 47 47 44 48 49
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Recent reviews

    genyphur FIRST-TIMER '18

    Kinda a scam organization. They cancelled the race super last minute (2 days before) this year due to smoke. Obviously that wasn't anticipated or wished for by anybody, but then … MORE

    Kinda a scam organization. They cancelled the race super last minute (2 days before) this year due to smoke. Obviously that wasn’t anticipated or wished for by anybody, but then they specifically said they’d reschedule for Feb/Mar in 30 days. Meanwhile race registration fees for other races in that timeframe go up. A month goes by, and they cancel the event completely but pocketed all of the $90+ registration fee. They do offer 3 deferral options to 2019, 2020, and 2021 but why would anybody want to commit to training and deal with such a haphazardly run organization again? Especially if the races are going to be during the same “fire season” time? All negative comments on their Instagram by other pissed off people get removed. And it’s kinda shady that they don’t offer athletes any option to defer/cancel when they get injured, so deferrals are only an option when it benefits them. There are so many better race alternatives in the area!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    mrl9117 FIRST-TIMER '17

    This race was a lot of fun, but I found it REALLY hard -- Berkeley is a pretty hilly place, so it isn't surprising that there are some hills, but … MORE

    This race was a lot of fun, but I found it REALLY hard — Berkeley is a pretty hilly place, so it isn’t surprising that there are some hills, but there was a really steep one around mile 2 that was not easy (and as someone who runs in Berkeley often, there are DEFINITELY ways to not have to run such steep hills!). It seemed very well organized; I had no trouble getting my packet, checking my bag, etc., and the swag after was great — there were a lot of booths and a free beer included with registration. However, the “beer garden” area was VERY crowded and it took quite a while to get to the front of the line.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    roxy031 REPEAT RUNNER '17

    I've run this race every year since the very first. I was a race ambassador the 2nd year. After running for the 4th time in 2016 in the POURING rain, … MORE

    I’ve run this race every year since the very first. I was a race ambassador the 2nd year. After running for the 4th time in 2016 in the POURING rain, I signed up to run again in 2017. In August, my best friend decided her wedding date would be the same weekend as the Berkeley Half, so running the race was not an option for me anymore. Because this race doesn’t allow transfers or deferments or refunds, my only choice was to cancel. I was happy to find out that those who were unable to run but that canceled by a certain date would be mailed their race shirt. This was a small consolation for missing the race. I emailed my cancelation notice well in advance, and when the race day came and went I started looking forward to getting my race shirt in the mail. A few days ago, when it had still not arrived, I emailed the people I’d contacted when I canceled. I was informed a few days later that “Due to the magnitude of this year’s event, we received a higher volume of shirt requests than usual. We are currently all out of race shirts.” I was offered a discount code for the SF Marathon or the Berkeley Half in 2018, neither of which I’m able to run in 2018. I’m pretty disappointed that they didn’t plan well to have enough shirts for everyone, especially considering how far in advance I let them know of my cancelation and that I’ve been a loyal runner every year. Because of the disappointment, along with the frustrations of the past couple of years of races (the 10k starting halfway through the half’s course, for example), I won’t be running this one again and will instead do the Monterey Bay/Big Sur Half Marathon as my annual November race instead.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    1

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    rodrobey FIRST-TIMER '17

    Has the feeling of a small, local 5k. There are multiple distance races going off roughly the same time. The course is really narrow at points and is extremely difficult … MORE

    Has the feeling of a small, local 5k. There are multiple distance races going off roughly the same time. The course is really narrow at points and is extremely difficult to maneuver around the slower runners/walkers that are doing the shorter distances as the shorter distances courses blend together with the half marathon.
    At the end, everyone gets the exact same finishers medal.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    2
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    amandasava REPEAT RUNNER '17

    The Pros: - There are challenge medals if you run any of the SF Marathon races - You do get some nice scenery The Cons: - You have to take … MORE

    The Pros:
    – There are challenge medals if you run any of the SF Marathon races
    – You do get some nice scenery

    The Cons:
    – You have to take a shuttle to the start
    – The parking is atrocious
    – The 10k start is halfway through the half marathon course so you are merging with some fast or tired runners
    – They don’t space the waves out enough and so you end up with A LOT of traffic for the first 3 miles
    – The last three miles are all uphill – it’s not a big hill, but if you don’t like hills.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    3
    SCENERY
    4
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    3

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    M_Sohaskey Nov 22, 2017 at 7:59pm

    Ah, I remember the hit-and-miss Berkeley roads well, having run on them for nearly a decade. It's too bad this course can't take greater advantage of the UC campus (despite… MORE

    Ah, I remember the hit-and-miss Berkeley roads well, having run on them for nearly a decade. It's too bad this course can't take greater advantage of the UC campus (despite its hills), but at least you got the Challenge medal and some nice views of the Bay, job well done! Enjoy Quarry and Nitro Turkey this weekend Amanda, and thanks for another excellent review! LESS

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    Maniacmay FIRST-TIMER '17

    The Berkeley Half is put on by the same people that put on The San Francisco Marathon. It’s a smaller production with ~9,000 runners (combined total of 5K/10K/Half). Though there … MORE

    The Berkeley Half is put on by the same people that put on The San Francisco Marathon. It’s a smaller production with ~9,000 runners (combined total of 5K/10K/Half). Though there were 4 waves, it was still pretty crowded for a while before the crowds thinned out, but it became crowded again around mile 8 when the course overlapped with the 10K course. The volunteers were great and the course ran through many neighborhoods, so there was some crowd support. The roads need some work so you need to pick up your feet and watch your step. Swag is nice — long sleeve shirt and a decent size finisher medal. SF-Berkeley challenge medal is a nice spinner medal. They also have swag for loyalty runners.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    3
    SCENERY
    2
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    3

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    Maniacmay Nov 26, 2017 at 9:46am

    Thanks M_Sohaskey! It’s nice to have goals and things to look forward to. You’ve done quite a few races that I may add to my staging area. It looks like… MORE

    Thanks M_Sohaskey! It’s nice to have goals and things to look forward to. You’ve done quite a few races that I may add to my staging area. It looks like our paths have crossed at a few events already. Maybe it will cross again at some future races. LESS

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    M_Sohaskey Nov 22, 2017 at 8:17pm

    It's too bad they haven't yet figured out the crowd situation after doing this for several years, since I'd really like to see this race thrive in my former hometown.… MORE

    It's too bad they haven't yet figured out the crowd situation after doing this for several years, since I'd really like to see this race thrive in my former hometown. But glad you got through it well and earned the SF-Berkeley Challenge medal, extra bling is never a bad thing. Congrats May, and thanks for the helpful review! (And your Staging Area page is a thing of beauty btw, so many awesome races on the horizon – hope our paths cross at one of them soon!) LESS

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    RunKMacRun FIRST-TIMER '17

    This was a really nice race. There were several points along the course where cars were allowed to drive in the street. At one point there were trying to push … MORE

    This was a really nice race. There were several points along the course where cars were allowed to drive in the street. At one point there were trying to push the runners on the sidewalk to get them out of the way of the on coming cars. Also, because parking in general is terrible in this area cars were parked on both sides of the street for the entire course. This made some of the turns a little tricky since the road became narrow. The roads were also not very well maintained. Be weary of large pot holes!

    In general this was a nice race. Weather this year was perfect. If you complete any distance at the San Francisco 1/2 you’ll receive a challenge medal.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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    trainwithv REPEAT RUNNER '17

    Even though this is a hilly race, when you think the up is too much the down is great and there are always runners out there with you with lots … MORE

    Even though this is a hilly race, when you think the up is too much the down is great and there are always runners out there with you with lots of spectators cheering you on

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    frankhwu REPEAT RUNNER '17

    I ran the Berkeley Half Marathon today. I finished in a lackluster 2:30. I had hope when I found myself ahead of the pacers for 2:20 at mile 11, but … MORE

    I ran the Berkeley Half Marathon today. I finished in a lackluster 2:30. I had hope when I found myself ahead of the pacers for 2:20 at mile 11, but I am certain they finished later than they were supposed to.

    I saw several people I see from time to time in the Bay Area.

    There was Spiderman. I was pleased to see he has friends. I have run behind him or just ahead of him multiple times. He is always dressed as Spiderman. I said hello. I told him I had seen him out there. He explained his costume makes him faster, because children cheer for him and he doesn’t want to disappoint them.

    There also as Lloyd. He has been a Brazen Racing “streaker,” meaning he has done every one of their races. He has a fake mohawk and matching furry leggings. He is a walker. He has many fans who shout out, “Lloyd!” as I did.

    Afterward, I saw my friend Simon Boehme. He did the 10k. It was his first, I think. He introduced me to a French bulldog, named Frank! He is dating the human to Frank, who apparently is a relation of the actor in the Men in Black movies (he’s a grand-nephew, not a son).

    This course is flat for the Bay Area. It has two tiny gentle rises and then an uphill in each direction up the overpass. That overpass leads to the part some runners dislike: it’s between the highway and the bay, along a paved path for about 2.5 miles total (1.25 miles each direction). I can’t say it’s my favorite part of a course, but it’s not bad.

    DIFFICULTY
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    4
    SCENERY
    3
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    4
    My Media

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    shassler88 FIRST-TIMER '16

    This is a popular race, run by locals and UC Berkeley students. It was interesting to run on streets that I normally walk or drive. The long sleeve t-shirt seems … MORE

    This is a popular race, run by locals and UC Berkeley students. It was interesting to run on streets that I normally walk or drive. The long sleeve t-shirt seems to be a badge of honor, I see more of them at other races than any other race shirt. I have to fault the organizers on the arrangement of the starting and finishing chutes for the half marathon and 5k. Basically, sweat check at BHS was isolated from the 5k start chute by the half finishing chute; there was no obvious or marked way to cross over the latter. This was quite annoying, especially given the crowds of runners.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    4

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    roxy031 REPEAT RUNNER '16

    This was my 4th time running the Berkeley Half. The course has some challenging uphills, but overall it's a great course and the community support is awesome. I have one … MORE

    This was my 4th time running the Berkeley Half. The course has some challenging uphills, but overall it’s a great course and the community support is awesome. I have one complaint. In 2016, the 10k runners joined the half marathon runners when we were at mile 7. So we’re just over halfway and maybe starting to get a little tired, and here come fast 10k runners with fresh legs… they were obnoxiously zigzagging in and out of the half marathon runners, and the course got very crowded at this point. It was also the point in the race where we run on the Bay Trail, which is already not super spacious, AND runners are running in close proximity in both directions. There’s very little room for passing other runners on this part of the course, and adding more runners to the equation is not the best move. So it was super frustrating at how this was done last year—most of the runners around me were saying how much it sucked. I understand wanting to have the 10k and half runners finish together, but not at the expense of making the course practically unbearable for several miles. That’s my biggest complaint. Also last year it POURED rain and was pretty miserable, but that’s not the race organizers’ fault 🙂 I will continue to run the Berkeley Half but am hoping they change the plan for the 10k runners in 2017.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    Angela REPEAT RUNNER '16

    **PRICES** It looks like the website now has only the most recent price ($110), and I don't remember what it was when I signed up or how many times it … MORE

    **PRICES**
    It looks like the website now has only the most recent price ($110), and I don’t remember what it was when I signed up or how many times it increased. Fail. It might have been like $80 in September & I think I had a discount code. If you decide to run this race, I recommend poking around the internet for Groupons, race ambassador promo codes, and other discounts.
    **DEADLINES/SELLOUT FACTOR**
    This year all three races sold out. I think the 10K went first and the other distances sold out closer to race day. (Weirdly, there was a “Race Registration” tent in the staging area. I’m not sure what that was about. Maybe early registration for next year?)
    **FIELD SIZE**
    4225 in the half, 1544 in the 10K, 1472 in the 5K
    **THE EXPO**
    The expo/bib pickup was Friday and Saturday at Berkeley Sports Basement. There is no race day bib pickup, but you can have a friend pick up for you.
    **STAGING**
    Race Start was on Milvia St. at Kittredge St., & the finish was just a block or two away, on Milvia at Allston. Bag check was in the Berkeley High School gym right by the start, and when the rain showed up it was REALLY nice to have an indoor area available after the race!
    **THE COURSE**
    The course was a big loop with lots of turns, a few steep-ish hills, and one nasty two-mile out-and-back section along the Bay. This year’s course was MUCH nicer than the first year I ran it, meandering through various parts of Berkeley. I’ve been told that in the second and third years the course actually wound through parts of the UC Berkeley campus, but no such luck this year. Some of the roads were fine but a not insignificant portion of them were chewed up and riddled with potholes. (Between this and the rain, I decided to wear trail shoes.)
    Aid stations were every couple of miles with water and Nuun, which makes the second time I’ve run this race without any useful sports drink out on the course. Nuun is electrolytes; it contains no calories. This makes it next to useless in terms of distance running. One of the aid stations had chews and a few had granola bars of some kind, so there was that. But still. I don’t understand why so many races seem to be switching away from calorie-rich sports drink to low- or no-calorie drinks. It makes zero sense to me.
    Pretty much everyone I know clocked a short course, starting at the mile 10 marker. The course isn’t certified, I believe, so it’s hard to say whether this was a GPS issue or a legitimately short course. Also there was definitely some sort of issue in that out-and-back section that will need to be sorted out, as well as the issue of the fastest 10K runners getting stuck behind thick crowds of half-marathon mid-packers. Either something went very very wrong with the 10K or someone just didn’t think the whole situation through.
    **SWAG**
    Long sleeves tech shirt & finisher medal, plus post-race snacks and free race photos.
    **IF YOU DECIDE TO RUN**
    – Poke around for discounts from race ambassadors and other sources. They’ve usually been out there & you can often get ~$10 off or so.
    – There is plenty of street parking along University if you get there a bit early, or you can be a good person & pay $20 to park at Berkeley High School (though I think it’s actually not closer). But do not repeat DO NOT pay any for-profit company $21 to reserve you a parking spot ahead of time. It’s a total racket.
    – If you’re driving back toward SF after the race while it’s still going on, just remember you can’t take University or realistically anything south of that. Instead head up to Gilman & take that to I80 & the Bay Bridge.
    – There are no super bad hills, but two reasonably long-ish ones that definitely take some extra work. Just know they’re there & adjust your time goals accordingly.
    **OVERALL ASSESSMENT**
    This race was fine, I guess, but I didn’t love it. The course is okay but not particularly fast or scenic, and there is some question in my mind as to whether it might be short. (Though, I think the course has been different every year, so who knows what future years will bring.) It’s not stupidly expensive, but not particularly cheap either (~$80-110, I think, maybe a little less with a discount), so the only real reason I can come up for running this particular race is that it’s nearby and the date most likely means cooler weather (though you could also get a downpour as we did). Due to all the turns, the few hills, the uncertainty about the distance, and the funkiness with the course in the out-and-back section, I don’t think I’d recommend this race for a PR/time trial course.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    My Report
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    Jen_L FIRST-TIMER '16

    Field size: 4211 finishers in the half marathon. There was also a 5K and 10K that started at different times/locations. All distances were sold out the day before the race. … MORE

    Field size: 4211 finishers in the half marathon. There was also a 5K and 10K that started at different times/locations. All distances were sold out the day before the race.
    Cost: $85+ for the half marathon, depending on when you register.
    Course: All paved, though look out for potholes and uneven roads. Two large climbs in the beginning and a gradual incline over the last 3 miles. Total elevation gain/loss: 512 feet (Garmin).
    Parking: There was plenty of free street parking north of University. You could also pay $20 to park in the Berkeley High School parking lot.
    Aid stations: Plenty of aid stations serving water and Nuun. They gave out Clif Bloks at one of the aid stations.
    Bathrooms: A lot of porta potties at the start/finish, and I saw several on the course.
    Swag: A nice medal and a green long sleeve tech tee. Each bib had a ticket for a post-race beer, but it was raining so hard that I doubt many people stuck around for that. GameFace took race photos and provided them for free.
    Post-race food/drink: I don’t know if this was affected by the rain, but the post-race spread was disappointing. I got a bottle of water and skipped the energy bars. I saw they were handing out chocolate milk too, but I’m lactose intolerant so I skipped that as well.
    What I liked about this race: It was fairly easy logistically, for a medium sized race. I thought the first half of the course was nice, though challenging. I wished that we got to run through UC Berkeley campus as they’ve done in previous years. The wave starts were nice to relieve congestion – which was still a problem in some areas.
    What I didn’t like: Two major flaws. First, there’s no excuse for the course to come up a full tenth of a mile short! Second, the misdirection and confusion on Frontage Road was also disappointing. Related to that, I felt so bad for the 10K runners who had to weave through the mass of half marathoners. It seemed like poor planning. I’m not sure I would run this race again due to the cost and the unpredictable weather.
    PR-ability: This would be a tough course to PR on, given the elevation gain and the very real possibility of bad weather. I think the motivation here would primarily be to run a decent-sized half marathon and do a running tour of Berkeley.

    DIFFICULTY
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    PRODUCTION
    4
    My Report
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    gladonme FIRST-TIMER '16

    This was my first half marathon and my dozenth race event. The not-free shuttle from local BART stations failed; the buses did not arrive and commuters had to find another … MORE

    This was my first half marathon and my dozenth race event. The not-free shuttle from local BART stations failed; the buses did not arrive and commuters had to find another way to the start line. For the thousands of runners, there seemed to be enough port-a-potties. The sweats check was unmonitored. We left our labeled bags on the HS gym floor near whichever sign indicated our race distance & bib number. I’d read and heard that I should beware of an incline in the beginning of the race. I found it manageable. The aid stations were good: water, electrolyte drink, energy chews, toilets and medical tents. I appreciated the spectators and “road staff” who cheered for us runners. It really is encouraging. It rained for the entire race (I was in Wave 4, the last). The weather was especially bad running along the Berkeley Marina. The marina is a selling point of the race; but, I was unable to enjoy it because of this year’s weather. The announcer was great! He was so positive and motivating. The finish line festival had some vendors with samples and some food for sale. There was free non-alcoholic beer (“recovery drink”, they offered us). Heat sheets and bananas were everywhere. The medal is plain; but the BHM logo is cool. It looks like both a letter “B” and the number “13”.

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    3
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    My Media

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    Angela FIRST-TIMER '13

    I ran the Berkeley Half in 2013, in its inaugural year. That first year, the course left a lot to be desired--about half the race running up and down along … MORE

    I ran the Berkeley Half in 2013, in its inaugural year. That first year, the course left a lot to be desired–about half the race running up and down along a frontage road by the freeway, and a few stretches of either gravel or chewed up pavement. (I’ve been told they just hadn’t had time yet to get the permits to run through the nicer, more interesting parts of the city.) The course was point-to-point and the shuttle system that was supposed to take runners from the finish near the race track to the start was a mess. (My friends and I actually ended up walking the three miles back to the start because we had no other way to get there.) Besides that, though, the organization was good, there was a nice medal and long sleeved tech shirt, and the next year at SFM I got an extra medal for running both races within a year.

    I didn’t run Berkeley in 2014, but it looked like the course was MUCH improved & ran through several more interesting parts of the city (although it was also probably a little harder). I would be willing to try this race again now that they’ve improved the course.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    3
    My Report
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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    Margs FIRST-TIMER '13

    I love supporting communities, so this was fun because I love Berkeley, but it starts out all downhill. I like running downhill after running uphill, but a couple of miles … MORE

    I love supporting communities, so this was fun because I love Berkeley, but it starts out all downhill. I like running downhill after running uphill, but a couple of miles of downhill right off the bat hurts me. Also, in order to make the run long enough in the space of the city they were allowed to use, you had to run around blocks again and again, which was not thrilling. The last 3 miles were on uneven muddy ground by the Bay which definitely surprised me. Lastly, finishing up a hill, was also not a plus, but Golden Gate fields does have the best view and made the after party fun. Pros of the race would be the swag (nice, green, long sleeve running shirt), and the nice after party with bus rides back. Oh, and the best was the Pyramid beer at the end.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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