Overall Rating
Overall Rating (128 Reviews)
4.1
(128 Ratings)  (128 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.7
SCENERY
4.4
PRODUCTION
3.9
SWAG
3.6
The San Francisco Marathon prides itself on its unique nature; like the city itself the race is more individual, the course more challenging, the terrain more beautiful – an event Bart Yasso, former Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World, referred to as “challenging and beautiful…one of the country’s best big … MORE
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Recent reviews

    bgmalcolm FIRST-TIMER '22

    I was quite intimidated by this course due to the elevation gain, but the beauty of SF alone made the race worth it for me. You’ll run through many SF … MORE

    I was quite intimidated by this course due to the elevation gain, but the beauty of SF alone made the race worth it for me. You’ll run through many SF gems including across the Golden Gate Bridge (twice), the Presidio, Haight Ashbury, and Golden Gate Park. The race and expo were very well organized. There were plenty of water/aid stations throughout the course. The 5:30 am start time was ideal, as we finished early and had more of the day to celebrate and relax. I hope to run this race again, although I recognize that I am unlikely to PR given the steady rolling hills.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    JunS FIRST-TIMER '22

    The course was hilly and hard on the legs, but it was a valuable marathon in the summer. There were plenty of water stations, which were helpful, though a little … MORE

    The course was hilly and hard on the legs, but it was a valuable marathon in the summer. There were plenty of water stations, which were helpful, though a little unorganized. I hope to participate again with a little more training on my legs.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    alan.orcharton REPEAT RUNNER '22

    Race is expensive but well produced - they close streets and you get to see some pretty parts of SF and a little Marin- Chrissy Field,Fort Baker, presidio, golden gate. … MORE

    Race is expensive but well produced – they close streets and you get to see some pretty parts of SF and a little Marin- Chrissy Field,Fort Baker, presidio, golden gate. You run through haughty Ashbury Potrero and Mission Bay. Starts early. Starts early. Really enjoyed the full Marathon experience.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Pros: challenging but beautiful hilly course and beautiful summertime California weather. It’s also one of the rare summertime marathons that can be run not in 75+ weather. Cons: Organization from … MORE

    Pros: challenging but beautiful hilly course and beautiful summertime California weather. It’s also one of the rare summertime marathons that can be run not in 75+ weather.

    Cons: Organization from the race directors is honestly not the best in my 10 years of racing, especially for the price of this race which is 2-3x as much as other races (excluding the majors). In the 2020 I know multiple runners who completed the virtual race and never received their medals or gear, but we gave this race another shot since we know that year was difficult for everyone! This year they offered incentives like extra t-shirts for signups, but my friends and I never received those either. With the caveat that I’m always grateful for race volunteers and they were all wonderful people, on the Marin side of the bridge there were almost no water stations and very few people at them, leading to runners having to wait for water which after those hills can cause some serious cramps! For the record, I do not blame any volunteers as this section looked difficult to get to, but I do think the SF marathon directors can do a better job incentivizing volunteering (race credits, swag, etc.) or emphasize that runners may want to carry their own water. Finally, at the finish line you got a water, a banana, and a medal but there was no section to meet up with other runners or family or celebrate or even get a post race photo with a cool background. These are obviously nice to haves and not need to haves for a good race, but I was surprised there were no tents of non-alcoholic brews, no music, no food vendors, no massages, or really much of anything at the finish line and really the expo the day before too. The half in February put on by a different organization has all of this and more as have all other marathons I’ve run in the past (even smaller ones), and I think it also allows runners in the area to connect and learn more about clubs or upcoming races in the area, but also let’s out of town runners catch their breath and enjoy the city! Despite the convenience of being in my hometown and a PB, I don’t think I can recommend this race or try to get friends to join me next time because for the steep price it’s not worth it.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    2
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    2

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    Ali6184 REPEAT RUNNER '22

    The aid stations were excellent. The volunteers were very helpful. The most unique aspect about the race was the two marathons. The race could be improved with more runners in … MORE

    The aid stations were excellent. The volunteers were very helpful. The most unique aspect about the race was the two marathons. The race could be improved with more runners in the Ultramarathon.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    CentralCalGirl FIRST-TIMER '21

    Why do this? Location , views, weather (most years) , great race support, super volunteers. To those upset about corral security, maybe chill. Easy walk to hotel after and loads … MORE

    Why do this? Location , views, weather (most years) , great race support, super volunteers.
    To those upset about corral security, maybe chill. Easy walk to hotel after and loads of food options.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Last minute route changes, overcrowded corrals with no organization. Routes that run through others without signs and promises to have age group medals that were never sent. There are much … MORE

    Last minute route changes, overcrowded corrals with no organization. Routes that run through others without signs and promises to have age group medals that were never sent.
    There are much better races in San Francisco.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    2
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    1

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    seabass REPEAT RUNNER '21

    This year they changed the course and combined the 1st and 2nd half into a loop. You still ran along the Embarcadero (twice), Fisherman's Wharf (twice), and by Fort Point … MORE

    This year they changed the course and combined the 1st and 2nd half into a loop. You still ran along the Embarcadero (twice), Fisherman’s Wharf (twice), and by Fort Point and the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a hilly course and when the sun comes out you need to make sure you get enough water. This is course I will run again.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    sftblleco13 FIRST-TIMER '21

    I did both the 5K and half marathon. Both races were nice and scenic. It was really cool to run near the Golden Gate Bridge. It was foggy for the … MORE

    I did both the 5K and half marathon. Both races were nice and scenic. It was really cool to run near the Golden Gate Bridge. It was foggy for the 5K but cleared up for the half for some nice pictures. Solid course support throughout the race. It’s definitely one of the bigger halfs I’ve ever done in terms of field size and big city. Plenty of pre-race portos for both races. I never felt lost or unsupported, which, as a back of the pack runner, was really nice. Medals were small. Nice tech long sleeve shirts for swag. I did this race as my CA race for a half in every state.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    mbourquin REPEAT RUNNER '21

    This organization is very dishonest. They lied about awards, they lied about the race course, they had no security in corrals, they charge you for buses and then cancel them. … MORE

    This organization is very dishonest. They lied about awards, they lied about the race course, they had no security in corrals, they charge you for buses and then cancel them. There are plenty of better races in S.F. don’t bother.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    1

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    jon.endean FIRST-TIMER '21

    First off, the hills up to the Golden Gate Bridge and then through the Presidio no joke. That said, you’re rewarded with some spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay … MORE

    First off, the hills up to the Golden Gate Bridge and then through the Presidio no joke. That said, you’re rewarded with some spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, so it’s hard to complain too much about the course!

    That said, I ran the 2021 version, which had been postponed due to Covid from July. Additionally, they made some last-minute adjustments to the course so that the start and finish lines were the same for everyone. That seems to have led to a couple of issues.

    First, the half marathon course crossed over itself at mile 3/10, meaning runners at mile 10 had to dodge runners at mile 3. I expect that will be a one-time issue due to the way the course was changed, but it was not ideal. Second, the course marshals failed to properly direct people at mile 11, causing runners to go on a 0.25 mile detour. While I imagine that some of this was due to the the changing of the course at the last-minute, that sort of error shouldn’t happen in a big city race like this.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    2
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    Ali6184 REPEAT RUNNER '21

    The aid stations were excellent for the first Loop and the volunteers helped me with nutrition. The most unique part of the race was the first loop because it went … MORE

    The aid stations were excellent for the first Loop and the volunteers helped me with nutrition. The most unique part of the race was the first loop because it went through a new area. The race could be improved with more snacks for the second lap.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    marathonrunner FIRST-TIMER '20

    I am writing this review to warn other runners about the ineptitude of this race organization.  The last thing I want to do is put another ounce of energy or … MORE

    I am writing this review to warn other runners about the ineptitude of this race organization.  The last thing I want to do is put another ounce of energy or thought into the San Francisco marathon, but I am writing out of obligation to review a very disorganized and disappointing race experience.
    I qualified for the Subseed Athlete program which advertises a discounted race entry.  If you are looking to qualify for this, be aware that the discount only covers approximately a quarter of the very high price tag of this race.  Furthermore, if you want to use the discount, don’t bother to try to sign up on one of their promotional weekends.  They will force you to choose between the promotional race swag or the subseed athlete discount.  
    Now for my review of the race and COVID-19 experience with them.  I was told I had to register for the race by mid-March in order to participate with the Subseed Athlete program.  Participating in this program was important to me and so I did register prior to that given deadline.  As many other race participants have mentioned, when the race organizers finally decided to cancel the race, they offered only the option of participating in the virtual race or deferring for an additional $39 fee.  The emails stated that if you did not choose an option, your registration would automatically be converted to the virtual race.  I emailed to ask if there was a way to waive the $39 fee for Subseed Athletes and was simply referred back to the deferral registration page (which required the fee to be paid).  On the weekend of the virtual race, I went to look up my name.  It did not exist in the system.  I emailed them that weekend to inquire if by chance, my race had been deferred.  I did not receive an email back from them until Tuesday afternoon (you would think they would be working and troubleshooting issues like this on the race weekend but they were not).  I was told there was a mistake with their system and that I should have in fact been participating in the virtual race and could now enter my time.  They still refused to grant me a deferral despite their mistake.
    I have run 23 marathons in my life.  I have never had a race experience as disorganized and disappointing as this one. I would never consider running the San Francisco marathon again.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    1

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    BigAl REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Have run this 12+ times since 2003. Consistently perfect weather (nice and cool, often foggy at the start). Can't beat the experience running across and back on the Golden Gate … MORE

    Have run this 12+ times since 2003. Consistently perfect weather (nice and cool, often foggy at the start). Can’t beat the experience running across and back on the Golden Gate Bridge. While some of the city running is drab, you do get to run by Fisherman’s Wharf, through the Marina and Golden Gate Park, through the Haight, by the ballpark,… Starts real early, but you get to avoid traffic getting in (and lots of free street parking w/in a half mile of the start). The hills add up, so this isn’t the race for your PR. Love this one (though I heard the one they ran after Covid had challenges, and the price is now 2x).

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    chg1110 FIRST-TIMER '19

    This was my first 1/2 marathon and I wanted it to be a big one. The scenery running (except for a small stretch on Embarcadero) was wonderful and the weather … MORE

    This was my first 1/2 marathon and I wanted it to be a big one. The scenery running (except for a small stretch on Embarcadero) was wonderful and the weather was perfect. It was very crowded and I never felt like I was running in my own space, which was to be expected. The swag was pretty good (I registered when they were offering a swag pack) but it was still a very expensive race. I did enjoy the experience overall as a first time runner and will probably do it again with some friends next time.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    usamhall FIRST-TIMER '19

    Positives- organization, expo, scenery, swag- excellent zip jacket and long sleeve shirt Negatives- hills, hills, hills, running on the sidewalk of the Golden Gate bridge and crossing under the bridge … MORE

    Positives- organization, expo, scenery, swag- excellent zip jacket and long sleeve shirt
    Negatives- hills, hills, hills, running on the sidewalk of the Golden Gate bridge and crossing under the bridge to the other side was at least dangerous if not hopelessly crowded. Not a PR race unless it is your first marathon.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    262run FIRST-TIMER '19

    My brother ran this as his first half marathon ever and had a great experience! It had more downhill than he expected, but the course was very scenic and he … MORE

    My brother ran this as his first half marathon ever and had a great experience! It had more downhill than he expected, but the course was very scenic and he completed it in his goal time. Read the recap Q&A on my blog!
    https://262.run/san-francisco-half-marathon-recap/

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    RunKMacRun REPEAT RUNNER '19

    This race has several challenge options. The Half It All, Club 52, The Original San Fran Challenge, a Loyalty program for 3 + years, and a new one this year … MORE

    This race has several challenge options. The Half It All, Club 52, The Original San Fran Challenge, a Loyalty program for 3 + years, and a new one this year (2019) that partnered with the OC Marathon.
    No race day bib pick up and parking is really tight at the expo. Walk or uber if you can.
    The first half of the full is more challenging that the second half. The full marathon is the only race option that allows you to run over the Golden Gate Bridge. I was worried since they no longer close the bridge down. You run along the walking path on each side of the bridge. It was a little odd but at no point did it feel cramped.

    Be sure to be done before 6hours. They start shutting things down and pulling aid stations fairly early due to the roads needing to be open quickly. Lots of runners crossed after the 6 hour mark and didn’t get their challenge medals and I know a few people that had to stop at coffee shops and rely on spectator run aid stations for water and snacks after mile 18.

    Fun race.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    damnchap REPEAT RUNNER '19

    I last ran this event in 2013, which was a PR for me - while now older and slower, I had a great race. In the past the course suffered … MORE

    I last ran this event in 2013, which was a PR for me – while now older and slower, I had a great race. In the past the course suffered from having a truly scenic first half and a really crappy end, back when the hunter’s point area was a wasteland. This year with all the recent construction, the views at the end leave a lot to be desired – it is an great improvement. If you are on the fence about running this – definitely run at least the first half and you’ll see the best of what SF offers.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    OCSCFan REPEAT RUNNER '19

    The 1H no longer runs across the GG bridge. This privilege is now limited to the full marathoners. The missing distance is tacked on in Golden Gate Park and IMO … MORE

    The 1H no longer runs across the GG bridge. This privilege is now limited to the full marathoners. The missing distance is tacked on in Golden Gate Park and IMO made the SF1H more difficult. Starting at Fort Mason at mile 6, you start a 1.5 mile climb up the Presidio which is ball busting. After you come out of Presidio, it’s another steady, albeit less steep, climb to the GG Park where you enjoy some downhill before another gradual steady climb for the last 2 miles to the finish.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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