Overall Rating
Overall Rating (86 Reviews)
4.6
(86 Ratings)(86 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.5
SCENERY
4.4
PRODUCTION
4.4
SWAG
4
The Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon® is a runners’ favorite for its scenery and value. A fast and certified course through San Francisco’s scenic Golden Gate Park, the race has been selected as Road Race of the Year by the Road Runners Club of America several times. The 5K … MORE
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Recent reviews

    K2ayers FIRST-TIMER '17

    t felt really good to lace up and race again. This was my first race of any kind since August of last year. While I categorized this race on my … MORE

    t felt really good to lace up and race again. This was my first race of any kind since August of last year. While I categorized this race on my training schedule as a training run, the natural competitor in me was starving and saw this race as a smorgasbord. I did my best to find a balance between the two.
    This story starts the night before. As usual I laid out my clothes, gear and researched travel and parking arrangements. The race website was less informative than any of my prior half marathon races. In order to get the map of the course, I had to download an app on my phone. The map showed no topography, but did show water stops. The information regarding parking was non-existent until the Race Weekend Information email that was received just a few days prior to the race. The Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon was celebrating its 34th year of existence, yet seemed to be operating like a inaugural local 5k. Although I had met several people who had previously competed in this race, the shroud of secrecy made it seem slightly exclusive.

    After trying to recreate the route a few times using Google Maps, RunGo and a flurry of other sites/apps, I discovered that I was recreating the wheel. On the Strava website they have a page where they show course topography, other Strava users who have entered the race and their goal times. The information was very helpful. With Strava being a San Francisco based company, perhaps this is a partnership waiting to happen.

    On the morning of the event my wife and I woke up before dawn and watched the sun rise as we made our way to San Francisco. Despite many worries, we were able to secure excellent parking directly across the street from the parking lot. Rain was in the forecast for the afternoon. The sky was heavy and so were my legs as I jogged around attempting to warm up. The 5k was scheduled to start at 8am while the half marathon was scheduled to begin at 8:10. They were both five minutes late. This probably isn’t a big deal to most, but I’m slightly rigid in my prerace routine and hate standing in corrals for longer than I have to.

    As I kissed my wife goodbye and made my way to the starting line, I ran into one of my Black Men Run Brothers Ron Duncan. This was the first time we had met in person, but we had communicated online about race logistics and attempting to meet up. He had run this race before. Ron’s pace goals were faster than my own. He gave me some good advice on race strategy and we made plans to reconnect at the finish line after the race.

    I had decided weeks before to run this race without headphones. I felt that it was important to focus on the race and learn lessons to help me improve in the future. This would also be my first time running a race with a GPS watch that could provide me measurable data to review post race.

    As the race bell sounded, I said a quick prayer to myself as I started the longest short walk from my corral spot to the starting line. The days of adrenaline leading up to this moment all climaxed into my final step across the starting line. I waved a final goodbye to my wife who had stationed herself off to the left.

    I began the race at a 7:00/mi pace. I ran comfortably, listening to the rhythm of my own breath, quietly assessing how I was feeling. The first half of the course stretched through Golden Gate Park which provided a flurry of distractions. If you’ve never been, it’s an amazing site to see. In the heart of a city with towering sky scrapers and busy streets you’ll find over 1,000 acres of quiet and serene wild life including lakes, roaming wild animals, gardens and several beautiful man made structures. Over the first few miles I found myself looking around and enjoying where I was more than worrying about pace. Having the GPS watch to review pace stats at any given moment was helpful to say the least. In prior races, I just had audio cues alerting me to my pace at different mile or time markers. Having GPS information allowed me to lock in at a 7:00/mi pace within the first 200yds of the race and I finished the first 5k in an average pace of 6:45/mi

    The next four miles were at a slight decline as we headed back towards the ocean. My pace was slightly increased (6:30/mi) but I was relaxed and focusing on reducing the sound of my steps and shortening my stride. I spotted my wife somewhere between mile six and seven. We quickly exchanged jokes as I passed. At mile seven the race exited the park and continued along the Great Highway. This span of the race was a 5 1/2 mile out and back along the ocean. While most people warned me that this part of the race was grueling, I was kind of looking forward to having an ocean view for a good stretch of the race. Now that I’ve run the race, I can see the reason for the warnings. At least four of the miles have absolutely no ocean view. While this was disappointing I’m happy to confirm that the strip along the Great Highway is (sort of) flat. Maybe it was my tired legs, but I’d honestly rate miles 7-10 as a very gradual incline with miles 10-12 1/2 as a slight decline. It could have all been mental but this is certainly how it felt. During this portion of the race my goal was to simply hang on for the ride. “Keep the pace under 6:50” was my mantra on the way out. On the way back I made up an impromptu song called “We’re Almost Home!” that went to the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground. My legs were heavy and my hips were aching but I managed to deliver a 6:34 final kick in the last mile.

    It was a great race. This was my first half marathon where my calves didn’t cramp up in the final miles. That itself was an achievement. According to the official race results I PR’d by about one minute by clocking in a chip time of 1:28:46. My previous PR stood since November of 2015. It felt great to finally see it fall.

    They say you can’t discover your weaknesses until you test them. I learned a lot during this race. They include:

    •SPEED WORK: Over the past six weeks of training I’ve been primarily focusing on reaching the prescribed weekly distances. It’s time now to reintroduce speed work into the program.
    •STRENGTH TRAINING: I’ve been doing better at incorporating body weight exercises into my daily routine. More core work, light weights and more reps are in my immediate future.
    •CROSS TRAINING: I’ve mentioned it in prior posts, but let’s be honest. I’ve ridden my bike maybe twice in the last six weeks. I’ll have to get better at this to prevent injuries.
    •I RUN BETTER WITHOUT MUSIC: As much as I enjoy listening to music during my runs, numbers don’t lie. I’ve run my best three half marathons without headphones. I could argue the facts but it would be futile. I will continue to do some of my training runs with music or listening to the latest podcast but I’ll also spend time just learning to listen to my own body.

    Despite all complaints and issues, I leave this race recommending that anyone who wants to run, sign up for a Kaiser Permanente race. Their next is scheduled to take place in Napa on March 5th. Click for more information.

    At this phase of my marathon training, I’ll be continuing to slowly increase my weekly mileage as well as my long run. I thank my wife for her continued support. You and the kids are a constant inspiration to keep me going.

    Thanks for reading!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    My Report
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    dwaynejarrell FIRST-TIMER '18

    This is a great half marathon course. Just challenging enough to be interesting, but with a nice flat second half running along Ocean Beach. Golden Gate Park is gorgeous and … MORE

    This is a great half marathon course. Just challenging enough to be interesting, but with a nice flat second half running along Ocean Beach. Golden Gate Park is gorgeous and hilly enough to be fun. Race organization was top notch, and the shirts were a different kind of soft, light-weight material. Will definitely attempt this one again.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Pangolin FIRST-TIMER '18

    Overall, a fun, fast race that's not too crowded and is well organized. In no particular order; Pros: - Bib is mailed to you for no extra charge! Very convenient. … MORE

    Overall, a fun, fast race that’s not too crowded and is well organized.

    In no particular order;
    Pros:
    – Bib is mailed to you for no extra charge! Very convenient.
    – Frequent and well-staffed aid stations
    – Mostly flat, with a slight negative overall and a bit of a hill at the end
    – The medal is adorable (it has a little whale that swims back and forth…)
    – Lots of dogs in Golden Gate Park make for cute scenery (don’t worry, they’re leashed and don’t get in the way!)

    Cons:
    – Not the organizer’s fault, but along the ocean stretch surfers trying to cross the street kept getting in the way of runners
    – Not a ton of crowd support, if you like that
    – Pricey if you register late; I recommend registering around September for the early-bird discount
    – T-shirt isn’t particularly well made, although it’s soft (and the design is nice)

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    Eudys REPEAT RUNNER '18

    This is a very well organized and fun race to run. The course is very simple and doesn't have long hills to climb, and runs through the the gorgeous and … MORE

    This is a very well organized and fun race to run. The course is very simple and doesn’t have long hills to climb, and runs through the the gorgeous and iconic Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Post race festivities have a lot of free samples and great swag. I felt great running this race!

    DIFFICULTY
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    Profile photo of Diane Cappiccille
    dsarmi FIRST-TIMER '18

    Fun with 11 year old daughter & friends. Returning next year. Organized event with shuttle from parking to start of race. The stretch as a group at the beginning of … MORE

    Fun with 11 year old daughter & friends. Returning next year. Organized event with shuttle from parking to start of race. The stretch as a group at the beginning of 5K was very helpful. Liked the overall organization of everything. Thank you, Kaiser!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    Runner89 REPEAT RUNNER '18

    I have run many road half marathons and Kaiser Half in San Francisco is definitely the most beautiful of all of them. It is a very-well organized event, the weather … MORE

    I have run many road half marathons and Kaiser Half in San Francisco is definitely the most beautiful of all of them. It is a very-well organized event, the weather is really nice most of the time, and the course is not hard, just need to be ready for the last half-mile uphill to the finish line. Plenty of aid stations with volunteers everywhere. The sweat bag station is extremely efficient at the start and finish.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    josephk FIRST-TIMER '18

    From miles 0-7, the scenery was great, running the Golden Gate Park, with both uphills and downhills. However, from 7-13, with a 6 mile stretch along Ocean Beach was tedious. … MORE

    From miles 0-7, the scenery was great, running the Golden Gate Park, with both uphills and downhills. However, from 7-13, with a 6 mile stretch along Ocean Beach was tedious. Running in a flat straight line for 3 miles, then doing a U-Turn and doing the same flat 3 miles all over again was painstaking. Would recommend to course organizers to alter course.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    3

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    carriedion REPEAT RUNNER '18

    Nice local race. Love running through the Golden Gate park and along the Pacific Coast HWY. Great start and finish. We had a nice clear day this year. I have … MORE

    Nice local race. Love running through the Golden Gate park and along the Pacific Coast HWY. Great start and finish. We had a nice clear day this year. I have run this race many times. The weather this year was great.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    mdcjr FIRST-TIMER '18

    Register early so,your bib is mailed. Park at Cliff House and take bus Post race is awesome It was my first half, and it was great, 1st part through GG … MORE

    Register early so,your bib is mailed.
    Park at Cliff House and take bus
    Post race is awesome
    It was my first half, and it was great, 1st part through GG Park flew by. Great Hwy is long, and flat,

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    c2runformedals FIRST-TIMER '18

    Being only a month apart from the Hot Chocolate Run, having the race in the same location makes the routes a bit boring when a lot of the participants actually … MORE

    Being only a month apart from the Hot Chocolate Run, having the race in the same location makes the routes a bit boring when a lot of the participants actually ran both events. The routes are not exactly the same but had a lot of similarities. The 5k gets a view of the Golden Gate Park, which consists of trees, trees, pond/lake, and more trees. There’s plenty of shades along the path, it’s a good breezy time to run. They emphasized on how the run is all downhill, there’s more uphill than downhill, not extreme SF uphill though.

    Starting line and post-race expo wasn’t as festive as I had expected. There’s a group warm up, was expecting some type of starting line music. The shirt was just a cotton shirt instead of any type of tech shirt. You can purchase their tech version from their merchandise store.

    Still one of the cheaper races in SF. Great for dragging beginner runner friends out to give this a go.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    M_Sohaskey Feb 09, 2018 at 12:22am

    So funny you mention the Hot Chocolate Run Connie, since they actually copied the KP SF Half course! (This was the 35th year for the KP SF Half.) In any case, it's always great being able to run in Golden Gate Park and along Ocean Beach. Thanks for your helpful review, and hope you'll share more of your race experiences here on RaceRaves!

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    BeTheRunner REPEAT RUNNER '18

    5k course is very runnable downhill, so your time will be about 30 seconds per mile faster than you can do on a flat course. Didn't give a top rating … MORE

    5k course is very runnable downhill, so your time will be about 30 seconds per mile faster than you can do on a flat course. Didn’t give a top rating only because of a couple issues that could probably be fixed without too much trouble. 1) I was there to run as fast as I could on that day, so was worried by the several very small children starting right in the front. This is very dangerous both for the children and for those who may trample them and/or trip over them. You are going to have a big problem with this someday unless you do something about it. 2) The sweats did not arrive until 20-30 minutes after the early 5k finishers. Not that big of a problem because it was a warm day, but would be a bigger issue on a normally cool day.
    Great to have results available super quick. Course is great. Only gave a less than perfect scenery grade because you’re looking at lots of trees, etc., but you can get that almost anywhere. The half marathon is different because you do go out by the ocean.

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    vvnliao REPEAT RUNNER '18

    Great route through Golden Gate park, a few hills at the start but mostly downhill for the 5k. Parking wasn't clear, typing "great highway parking lots" into google maps won't … MORE

    Great route through Golden Gate park, a few hills at the start but mostly downhill for the 5k.
    Parking wasn’t clear, typing “great highway parking lots” into google maps won’t get you to the lots that the shuttles run from. Make sure to park in the lots close to golden gate park.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    3
    SCENERY
    5
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    moicontrelavie REPEAT RUNNER '18

    This is a gorgeous race and one of the only flat courses in San Francisco. It's fun to skip the hills and bridges and run through the park and along … MORE

    This is a gorgeous race and one of the only flat courses in San Francisco. It’s fun to skip the hills and bridges and run through the park and along the Great Highway. A fun race, gorgeous day, and great volunteers.

    DIFFICULTY
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    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    speedy0029 FIRST-TIMER '18

    Wonderful staff and course preparation. Great foe 1st time 1/2 Marathon runner like me. Great shuttle services, High end Tour bus to transport you to start and finish line. Wonderful … MORE

    Wonderful staff and course preparation.
    Great foe 1st time 1/2 Marathon runner like me.
    Great shuttle services, High end Tour bus to transport you to start and finish line.
    Wonderful after run celebration.
    Definitely run again next year.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
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    5
    SCENERY
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    scottennison7 REPEAT RUNNER '18

    If you’re looking to run your first half marathon or post a personal best for 13.1, it behooves you to give Kaiser a look. The race starts in the middle … MORE

    If you’re looking to run your first half marathon or post a personal best for 13.1, it behooves you to give Kaiser a look. The race starts in the middle of Golden Gate Park before heading out onto the panhandle.

    The first six miles of the race are largely in Golden Gate Park. These miles are largely flat and downhill. Once you’ve conquered Golden Gate Park, the course drops you onto the Great Highway.

    From here, there’s a long stretch to the end of the Great Highway before heading back and finishing the race in the southwest corner of Golden Gate Park, where a great post race expo awaits you.

    This race is flat, fast, and well managed.

    DIFFICULTY
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    5

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    katfitzyoung FIRST-TIMER '18

    Great fast course. 90% down hill. Great giveaways at the end. Not too crowded. Lots of port-a -potties. Fun crowd. I may try the 1/2 next time. MORE

    Great fast course. 90% down hill. Great giveaways at the end. Not too crowded. Lots of port-a -potties. Fun crowd. I may try the 1/2 next time.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    janshome FIRST-TIMER '18

    Excellent race and very well run. Smooth from entry to finish. Great communication, SO many people to help on race day. Plenty of potties! Excellent aid stations. Just needed music … MORE

    Excellent race and very well run. Smooth from entry to finish. Great communication, SO many people to help on race day. Plenty of potties! Excellent aid stations. Just needed music and starting corrals to be perfect. Course seems easy, but the Great Highway is long and hard!

    DIFFICULTY
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    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    gourishpk FIRST-TIMER '18

    I didn’t get to practice enough. My maximum run distance during practice was about 8 miles in 2 hours. I needed that extra energy to go past the 2 hour … MORE

    I didn’t get to practice enough. My maximum run distance during practice was about 8 miles in 2 hours. I needed that extra energy to go past the 2 hour mark to reach 13miles. The last mile or so was walking time as I couldn’t run. But was totally worth it. Will do it again after practice

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    karen8 FIRST-TIMER '18

    The first 6 miles is through scenic golden gate park, super flat and net negative so you’ll be off to a fast start. Then you turn a corner and head … MORE

    The first 6 miles is through scenic golden gate park, super flat and net negative so you’ll be off to a fast start. Then you turn a corner and head into the long stretch of the great highway which is hit or miss. Some like the beach view, but personally I thought it was hard drudging down and back a long road for most of the race. It is very flat though! And the weather this year was beautiful. However that was lucky and many years it is rainy and wind blowing in your face on the 10-13 miles back. The last half mile is hard because it is the only part that is uphill. Not much swag and they ran out of XS women’s t shirts. The medals are cool though and would be pretty to display.

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    heatherkiuttu FIRST-TIMER '18

    Race course was great for 5k. Truly almost downhill more than 50%. Busses to opening were plush, amazing course and then gorgeous medal in rose gold colored metal and Awsome … MORE

    Race course was great for 5k. Truly almost downhill more than 50%. Busses to opening were plush, amazing course and then gorgeous medal in rose gold colored metal and Awsome shirt! Festival area had something for everyone.

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  2. Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon (Kaiser Half)