My Profile

@rcjacobson

Pleasanton, CA Raving since 2015 Active 1 year ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):
  • Rave race:

    Napa Valley Marathon

  • Race that's calling my name:

    Boston – but it's breaking my heart. Ran a BQ in 2017 but missed the wicked 4:52 cutoff by a little over a minute

  • I run because:

    “I run because I am an animal. I run because it is part of my genetic wiring. I run because millions of year of evolution have left me programmed to run. And finally, I run because there’s no better way to see the sun rise and set.” Amby Burfoot

My Races

Organize, track & review your races and personal bests here.

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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Future Races

Personal Bests (4)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Marathon Folsom, CA Dec 3, 2017 3:21:47
Half Marathon Livermore, CA Mar 3, 2019 1:33:26
10K Pleasanton, CA Apr 15, 2018 41:20
5K Alameda, CA May 22, 2016 18:48

Future Races (0)

Race Distance Location Date Paid

Past Races (23)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Marathon Calistoga, CA Mar 1, 2020 3:33:18
Half Marathon Alameda, CA Sep 15, 2019 1:36:07
Marathon Weott, CA May 5, 2019 3:28:20
Half Marathon Livermore, CA Mar 3, 2019 1:33:26
Marathon Folsom, CA Dec 2, 2018 3:21:56
Half Marathon Tiburon, CA Sep 30, 2018 1:36:51
10K Pleasanton, CA Apr 15, 2018 41:20
5K Dublin, CA Mar 18, 2018 19:59
Marathon Folsom, CA Dec 3, 2017 3:21:47
Half Marathon Tiburon, CA Oct 1, 2017 1:34:09
Marathon San Francisco, CA Jul 23, 2017 3:39:40
Half Marathon Livermore, CA Mar 26, 2017 1:33:34
15K San Francisco, CA Jan 8, 2017 41:18
10K Pleasanton, CA Jun 19, 2016 42:05
5K Alameda, CA May 22, 2016 18:48
5K Pleasanton, CA May 7, 2016 19:58
15K Pleasanton, CA Apr 17, 2016 1:07:09
Marathon Calistoga, CA Mar 6, 2016 3:31:32
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Nov 8, 2015 1:35:58
Half Marathon Oakland, CA Aug 15, 2015 1:39:15
15K Pleasanton, CA Apr 12, 2015 1:11:22
Half Marathon Livermore, CA Mar 28, 2015 1:51:53
5K San Jose, CA Dec 14, 2014 23:42

My Raves

Things have changed since I ran this race the first time in 2016. I'm not entirely complaining because some of the changes had to happen, and some of the perks … MORE

Things have changed since I ran this race the first time in 2016. I’m not entirely complaining because some of the changes had to happen, and some of the perks that used to exist I never took advantage of the first time. But the following things made the event seem like it lost a bit of its former luster:

1) When I ran it four years ago, it was the Napa Valley MARATHON. Now it is the Napa Valley Marathon and Half Marathon. I happen to love a good half marathon, and I’m sure it made good business sense for the organizers to incorporate the half marathon distance into the event, and the starting time and place for the Half were well planned to avoid congestion on the course. But something about the event now feels less purely devoted to marathoners. We even all got the same shirt and medal.
2) Headphones/earbuds are allowed. Previously, they could get you DQ’d. This one probably had to happen, but I liked the no headphones policy. It forced people to actually engage in the race and not just zone out to their tunes.
3) There are pacers. Again, maybe this one had to happen, but when I ran it before, there were no pacers allowed, which meant you had to do the work yourself. I thought that was pretty old school bad-ass.
4) There’s no longer an option to place personalized drinks at the aid stations. This is a perk I never took advantage of, and probably wouldn’t have this time around, but I thought it was cool that Napa used to allow any runner, not just the elites, to place personalized drinks at the aid stations of their choosing.
5) No showers at the end. Again, I didn’t opt for this the first time and probably wouldn’t have this time. I really just wanted to get back to the hotel. But I thought it was cool that runners could shower in the Vintage High gym if they chose.

All of the above were fairly minor annoyances, so on to my two biggest complaints:

1) The bus schedule got us to the starting line 45 minutes prior to the race start. Not enough time to use the porta potties more than once. The marathon start-time has been moved back from 7:00 to 7:30, which is fine, but my memory of the previous bus schedule was that we arrived at the starting line in Calistoga at least an hour prior. Which brings me to my biggest complaint,
2) Not enough porta potties at the starting line. I do not remember this being a problem 4 years ago. This year, I disembarked from the bus as soon as it arrived and spent the next 30 minutes in line for the potty. That didn’t leave a whole lot of time for warm-up, gear check, and general mental preparation. I’m guessing there were maybe 100 outhouses for over 2000 runners. Perhaps the organizers are trying to force more people into paying for the VIP tent.

All that said, you cannot beat the scenery on this course, it has surprisingly good spectator support considering the limited access points, and the volunteers who roam the course on bicycle are amazing cheerleaders. This race definitely has strong community support. You feel like you’re welcome there from the moment you arrive at the small, but runner-friendly, expo to the time you are recuperating with hot soup and bread after the finish. While I didn’t run my personal best, I was proud that I finally managed an even split in a marathon, and the nature of this course is conducive to even- or negative-splits. I would still recommend this race to any first-time or repeat marathoner.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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The race organizer, Steve Ashbaker, is an old friend of mine, so this may not be an entirely unbiased review. But I thought this event went off without a hitch. … MORE

The race organizer, Steve Ashbaker, is an old friend of mine, so this may not be an entirely unbiased review. But I thought this event went off without a hitch. I missed the expo and chose to pick up my bib at the starting line, but there were a plethora of friendly volunteers well over an hour prior to start-time. The course starts at the old Alameda Naval Air Station and spans the island from east to west so that you get great views of the Port of Oakland, downtown Oakland, the Bay, and San Francisco. And even though I’m not a big fan of turnarounds, the out-and-back portion to the USS Hornet was worth the 180 degrees. Great showcase of Alameda!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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You run this race for the scenery and the serenity, not for the swag and perks. This is obviously not a big-city race, so don't expect many spectators cheering you … MORE

You run this race for the scenery and the serenity, not for the swag and perks. This is obviously not a big-city race, so don’t expect many spectators cheering you on, and if you rely on a GPS watch, you might as well leave it at home because you probably won’t have a signal. Don’t expect pacers either. Also, this is one of the few races that still prohibits headphones/earbuds (okay, more like strongly discourages them, and they will get you DQ’d if you’re a top competitor). There is no expo, per se, but rather a packet pick-up with a couple of tables for local vendors. That being said, the aid stations are plentiful and well-placed, and the vibe is friendly and encouraging, so you’re not exactly on your own.

Lodging: Unless you want to tent- or RV-camp, your best bets are Garberville 25 miles to the south or Eureka 40 miles to the north.

Pre-race: I recommend picking up your bib the day before, even if it means more driving. Race-day pickup is available, but you’ll want to get there early. Take Exit 667 on race morning. Do not take Exit 663 even if the exit is open, because the way to the starting line will be blocked and you’ll have to turn around and go the opposite direction on 101 for a few miles before you right yourself back to the north. Even if you already picked up your bib, still arrive early, because parking takes time. Volunteers did their best to guide people into an unmarked dirt-lot parking by the Eel River, even though some drivers ignored their directions and made their own spots, but the whole process took time, and you’ll still have to walk to the start line.

Gear check: None to speak of, so it’s best to leave your gear in your car. I kept being told there was a white pick-up where bags could be dropped, but it was unclear which white pick-up was being referred to, so that led to a little bit of stress in the final minutes before the race.

Scenery: Stunningly beautiful. You’ll want to look around and appreciate it. Even if temperatures are warmer than ideal, you’ll be almost entirely under the canopy of the trees, so it will feel much cooler. There was only a short stretch in the town of Weott that was exposed–you’ll encounter this stretch both out and back–but it couldn’t have represented more than a mile total. The only time I didn’t appreciate the beauty of the course was in the last few miles when it’s hard to appreciate anything other than the pain.

Course difficulty: There were gentle rollers throughout, but no real hills until a short steep overpass just past Mile 25. You’ll actually run up the other side of this overpass around Mile 14, but it won’t faze you much. When you hit it again at Mile 25, it feels like a mountain. My calves began cramping near the top, and this was the closest I’ve come to walking in any of the marathons I’ve run. For me, the most difficult part of this course was the double out-and-back layout. The first half is out-and-back to the west, and the second half is out-and-back to the south. There are not many courses like this, and while I initially thought that the course design would break the race into handy little fourths, I actually found it mentally tough to embark on that second out, all the while wondering why it was taking so long to reach the turnaround, and then retrace my footsteps. For me, a point-to-point course seems psychologically more feasible.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3
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1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

This is the third time I've run Livermore, and it's still my favorite course. Beautiful scenery, just enough course difficulty, and great post-race festivities. Packet pickup at a local beer … MORE

This is the third time I’ve run Livermore, and it’s still my favorite course. Beautiful scenery, just enough course difficulty, and great post-race festivities. Packet pickup at a local beer garden was a little crowded this year, but that’s a minor quibble. This year, I got to run it with my daughter, which made it more special. We both PR’d.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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This was my second year in a row running this race, and like last year, the race production was seamless. This is a very well-organized event. The weather was perfect, … MORE

This was my second year in a row running this race, and like last year, the race production was seamless. This is a very well-organized event. The weather was perfect, just like last year, and the spectator support is there from start to finish. Small note: I love running through the start line to the sound of Cake’s “The Distance.”

As always, this is a fast field, so don’t be intimidated by the speedsters, and just run your race. Go easy in the first couple of miles, because it’s a downhill start, and you’ll have a tendency to go out too fast.

My only complaint this year was that there didn’t seem to be a course photographer. I don’t think there was anyone snapping photos along the course, and at the finish, where you ordinarily pose with your medal, there was no one. There was just the option to line up in front of the CIM sign and have your loved one snap photos of you. Hmm. Maybe something fell through with the photography company at the end, or maybe cost-cutting?

DIFFICULTY
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1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

The Sacramento Running Association advertises this course as the fastest course in the West, and with its net down-hill, it is fairly fast. Still, I can't help but wonder if … MORE

The Sacramento Running Association advertises this course as the fastest course in the West, and with its net down-hill, it is fairly fast. Still, I can’t help but wonder if CIM’s high rate of Boston Qualifiers is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you sell it as a fast course, you will draw faster runners, and the field at CIM seemed very fast. I think it would be an intimidating crowd for a first-time marathoner, and that’s a bit of a shame, because it is a course friendly to first-timers. While “net down-hill” does not mean no uphill (I would call CIM a rolling-hills course) none of the uphill portions are especially memorable, and the downhills are mostly gentle and easy on the quads. Plus, there is a ton of crowd support from start to finish as you make your way through all the towns from Folsom to Sacramento: live bands, front-lawn cheering sections, music blaring from loudspeakers, some kind of self-appointed race announcer in the middle miles, fun things to run through like a broken-brick wall shortly after Mile 20, etc.

Race production (expo, transportation to starting line, gear check, hydration stations, post-race festivities) are slick. Absolutely no hiccups. The medal, shirt, and other swag were impressive. Running CIM was such a smoother experience than running its neighbor to the west, the San Francisco Marathon, a few months ago.

My advice for running the course is not to make my mistake and go out too fast. The first mile is all downhill, and with all the adrenaline flowing, and the pressure of a faster field, it’s easy to get ahead of your pace. Once I established that faster pace, I had a hard time dialing it down for the next few miles. I ended up paying the price for my fast start in the late miles and was looking at an ugly positive split. By about mile 24, I could feel my BQ slipping away, but I ended up digging deeper than ever to hold onto it. I’m hoping it’s enough to actually get me into the 2019 Boston Marathon, as 2018 registrants had to be 3:23 faster than published qualifying times to actually get in, and my time was only 3:13 faster. I’m prepared to have my heart broken when Boston 2019 registration opens, but I still got the satisfaction of saying I ran a BQ, and I got to ring CIM’s famous BQ bell at the end of the race!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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This was a nicely organized race and I really enjoyed the course. Gorgeous view of Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge at the start, then some nice running along … MORE

This was a nicely organized race and I really enjoyed the course. Gorgeous view of Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge at the start, then some nice running along Richardson Bay. Like a lot of elevation charts, this one did not quite do the course justice. There are some tough, severe hills in the middle miles, in particular a short, steep climb at Mile 4, a longer climb at Mile 6, and a steady climb around Mile 8 that curved around and kept going after you thought it would be over. I was very happy with my time considering the difficulty of the course. The field of runners seemed faster than some other half marathons I’ve run. The medal is a honker, and the long-sleeve technical shirt was nice. Post-race festivities were not huge, but well hosted by Whole Foods.

My only complaint is that, like a lot of other races, this course will have you overlapping with the slower 5K and 10K runners, so you’ll have to do some dodging and calling out, “On your left!” in the last 3 miles. Seems like rearranging start times could have alleviated this. Maybe have the 5K and 10K start first, or at least immediately following the start of the Half, and not a half-hour later.

DIFFICULTY
4
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Course Difficulty: The elevation chart doesn't quite do this one justice. While the course circumnavigates the really tough hills in the middle of the city, it still climbs. The Fort … MORE

Course Difficulty: The elevation chart doesn’t quite do this one justice. While the course circumnavigates the really tough hills in the middle of the city, it still climbs. The Fort Mason hill at Mile 2.5 is your wake-up call, and then comes the toughest climb of the course just after Mile 5: the ascent from sea level to the Golden Gate Bridge. Don’t expect the bridge to be flat either (it’s an arc), but after the bridge comes your second toughest climb at Mile 10 as you make your way through the Presidio above Baker Beach. Golden Gate Park is no picnic either, with a slow steady uphill from Miles 14-16, and more uphill around Mile 18. Save something for your last major uphill in the Mission District around Mile 22.5. But as tiring as the uphills are, the downhills really trash your quads, especially the steep descent in the Haight-Ashbury around Mile 20.

Course scenery: This category should rate higher considering the beauty of San Francisco, but the scenery was basically nullified by San Francisco’s famous summer fog. With such an early start, you’re basically guaranteed to have no view of Alcatraz and Angel Island as you run past the Wharf and Crissy Field, and the Golden Gate Bridge will be so blanketed, it could be any bridge you’re running across (for a better bridge experience, run the Golden Gate Half in November when the weather is almost always clearer in SF). The views you might expect of Baker Beach and the Pacific Ocean are similarly nullified. The fog continued into Golden Gate Park, and it wasn’t until Mile 20 that the fog broke and I could actually appreciate the scenery.

Race Production: The sweat check process, which was sponsored by UPS, was utterly chaotic. I got to the starting line by 5:00 AM, 20 minutes before my Wave 2 corral was supposed to close, and the big brown trucks were apparently ready to check my bag. However, these were only for the First Half Marathoners. Where were the trucks for the full marathoners? Nobody could seem to give me a location. Apparently, those trucks were late, and race volunteers were only just setting out the signs for them. By this time, it was 5:15, so I had to chuck my bag on the ground and hope for the best, then run to my starting corral, and wait in line for someone to check bibs to make sure we were in the right wave. The National Anthem was already being sung, and I was still not in my corral. By the time I got in, it was about a minute before start-time, and I was thoroughly stressed. Fortunately, my bag made it on the right truck, but at the end of the race, it was an unnecessarily long walk for the full marathoners to get to their bags. All in all, the race seems more geared for Half Marathoners than Full Marathoners. Of the 27,000 participants, only about 7,000 are full marathoners. There’s something to be said for a pure marathon, and this is not a pure marathon. The First Halfers start at the same time as the Full Marathoners, which is fine, but don’t be surprised to see them going out a lot faster. It gets worse in Golden Gate Park, when the Second Halfers begin their course blowing past you with fresh legs. It’s not that I resent them for running a half marathon, it’s just that it makes it difficult to pace yourself, and with so many bodies on the course, there were many places where I felt boxed in. I never could quite find my rhythm in this course. Also, Golden Gate Park became confusing as the First Halfers go one way and the full marathoners go another. There were volunteers with bullhorns announcing the split, and there were signs, so not a big problem at first. But then for some reason, there was another split for the Second Halfers and full marathoners that I was not expecting. I don’t think this was reflected on the course map, and the signage was not as good, and I momentarily worried that I had taken the wrong path, so I asked a fellow Full Marathoner if we had taken the right split. His answer: “I hope so, or I’m going to be pissed.” Eventually everything merged together again. But my biggest issue was what I observed at Mile 25, when a full marathoner collapsed and took a hard fall. This occurred close to a medic tent, which would seem to be fortuitous, but when several of us began calling for a medic to attend to the man, the medics seemed bored and slow to respond.

Race Swag: Great shirt, one that I definitely would wear again. The medal was okay, too. But a clear plastic bag is all you get for your gear. No duffel, no goodie bag, no really impressive freebies or discounts.

All in all, San Francisco deserves a better marathon.

DIFFICULTY
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2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

I certainly haven't run them all, but this one has to rank up there. I LOVE this course, not only for its scenery, but also for its hill work in … MORE

I certainly haven’t run them all, but this one has to rank up there. I LOVE this course, not only for its scenery, but also for its hill work in Miles 7-9 that is difficult enough to make it interesting, but not so difficult as to scare off a PR. The post-race festival with wine- and beer-tasting and the live band rocks. Great bling and great runner support. I could not have PR’d without the help of the awesome 1:35 pacer from the Tri-Valley Running Club. I wish I knew that guy’s name. He was a perfect pacer through the uphill and downhill portions, and then pushed us out of the nest like little ducklings and sent us chasing after our best times.

DIFFICULTY
3
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1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

The 15K had to be shortened to something like 9.5K due to weather. I was looking forward to running the Great Highway, but that part of the course was closed … MORE

The 15K had to be shortened to something like 9.5K due to weather. I was looking forward to running the Great Highway, but that part of the course was closed due to high wind and heavy surf. The weather during the run was certainly not ideal, but not as bad as it could have been. Still, the last 2-3 miles back through Golden Gate Park were tougher than I had prepared for–uphill the entire way. Nothing terribly steep, but still tiring. This is definitely a positive-split course.

The 2017 race was as well-run as it could be considering the weather. There were no mile markers because the wind would have knocked them down, so it was difficult to pace myself, especially since I had prepared for a 15K and had to adjust to a weird new distance. Post-race chocolate and goodies were well-done, but the increasingly worsening weather had everyone chugging their hot chocolate and getting out of there.

The worst part of this race is the logistics of getting there. There’s a convoluted shuttle system that requires you to find parking at Union Square or SF State and then pay additional money to catch a shuttle to the park. I opted for a parking lot in the Richmond which required a 2-mile walk to get to the park. So we were soaking wet long before the race began. Even worse was the 2-mile walk back as our body temperatures started to drop and the shivering set in.

DIFFICULTY
3
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1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

This is the second year my daughter and I have run this Father's Day race and it's becoming a fun tradition. In it's 23rd year, this run is well established … MORE

This is the second year my daughter and I have run this Father’s Day race and it’s becoming a fun tradition. In it’s 23rd year, this run is well established with good local sponsorship and a surprisingly fast field of repeat runners. The course is flat as a pancake, but fully half of it is on a gravel trail, which definitely takes a few seconds per mile from your time. Race swag includes coupons to local restaurants and a shirt, but this year’s shirt (a puke-orange cotton blend) was hideous compared to last year’s awesome technical tee. All in all, a great tradition and a truly fun run. Be sure to hang out for the raffle, where they give out some nice prizes. Medals for the top finishers in their categories. I was proud to win 3rd in my division, but even prouder of my daughter, who won 1st in hers.

DIFFICULTY
3
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4
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2
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3

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Race coordinator Steve Ashbaker put on a first-rate production in this inaugural run. Race day registration and pickup were organized and smooth. The whole event was family friendly, and the … MORE

Race coordinator Steve Ashbaker put on a first-rate production in this inaugural run. Race day registration and pickup were organized and smooth. The whole event was family friendly, and the shirt was seriously one of my favorite race shirts ever. I also liked the etched beer glasses in lieu of medals for the winners. The course is flat, paved and perfect for a PR.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
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5
SWAG
5
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This race had a nice vibe as it benefited the Concerns of Police Survivors, and there were a lot of people running in honor of fallen officers. I figured my … MORE

This race had a nice vibe as it benefited the Concerns of Police Survivors, and there were a lot of people running in honor of fallen officers. I figured my car was fairly safe from break-in with all the cops present. It was a very kid-friendly event, there were lots of beautiful K9s, and the helicopter that flew in at the end of the race was a nice surprise.

As far as the course is concerned, holy confusion. I couldn’t duplicate my route on that course again. There was so much doubling back and intersecting and running cross-direction with other runners, I’m just glad I wasn’t in the lead, or I would have led everyone astray. Volunteers did help direct traffic, but there were a few places where passing other runners in cross-traffic was tight. This was a trail race, but the hills were fairly short and moderate and the footing was good. Don’t hold back too much, as it is fairly fast for a trail race.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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The course was altered slightly from last year, which seemed to help with the end-of-race gridlock that occurred last year. A few days before the race, the organizers decided to … MORE

The course was altered slightly from last year, which seemed to help with the end-of-race gridlock that occurred last year. A few days before the race, the organizers decided to start the 10K and the 15K at the same time, which may have also eased finishing chute congestion, but the main benefit came from the slight changes to the course. There’s still a 180-degree turn, which is a little annoying, but the out-and-back turnaround was moved from the end of the course to the middle. All in all, the race had a great local vibe, production was smooth, and the finishing medals looked better than last year. Best of all, I got to run with my daughter, and we both placed first for our divisions, which meant another nice-looking medal. Great job by the volunteers, who really make this race possible.

DIFFICULTY
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1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

This was my first marathon, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but I can't imagine a marathon with better runner support. Though I didn't take advantage of … MORE

This was my first marathon, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I can’t imagine a marathon with better runner support. Though I didn’t take advantage of this perk, the race allows any runner–not just elites–to have special drinks placed at the aid stations of their choosing. Aid stations were run like well-oiled machines and bike-mounted race officials roamed the course, not only looking for signs of trouble, but also shouting encouragement. When I crossed the line looking a little loopy, an official took me by the arm and escorted me to the medals and the photographer, all the while asking me how I was doing and keeping me talking and walking. Showers and massages were available post-race. Everything about this race was first-class, reflecting the fact that it is a small, intimate race that has been in existence for 38 years and benefits from fantastic sponsorship and community support. Before the race, I was told by several people that there is not enough spectator access and that there are too many long, lonely stretches of monotonous scenery. I actually found the scenery quite varied and inspiring, and the spectator support was great, from the top of the Silverado Trail where several residents blared the themes from Chariots of Fire and Rocky from driveway loudspeakers, to the middle and late segments, where spectators can access the course from several feeder roads. My family was able to cheer me on at two different points, as well as the finish line. The course is not super difficult, but does not really feel like the net downhill course it is. There are rolling hills throughout. Beware the sneaker hill from mile 19 to 20–it’s not terribly steep, but still takes something out of you. Miles 20 to 23 are your straightest, loneliest stretch, but once you make the turn onto Big Ranch Road, you’re in a residential neighborhood with lots of cheering. When you hit mile 25, you can hear the finish line and it pulls you in. All in all, I am so glad that I chose this to be my first marathon.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
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My Media

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Only one negative to this race: very few mile markers, which made it hard to pace myself. Everything else was perfect. I've run the sister races in Livermore and Oakland, … MORE

Only one negative to this race: very few mile markers, which made it hard to pace myself. Everything else was perfect. I’ve run the sister races in Livermore and Oakland, and this was definitely the most scenic. Livermore has beautiful vineyards and Oakland has its share of landmarks, but it’s hard to beat running through the Presidio, across the Golden Gate Bridge, out to Fort Point, and past The Palace of Fine Arts. The Golden Gate Half was also the most difficult of the three. Elevation is not tremendous, but there a few short, severe hills that have you sucking wind. Halfway through, I thought there was no way I’d PR, and was shocked to find out at the end that I had. The field was bigger than in Livermore and Oakland, and seemed more competitive, which maybe pushed me faster. Race swag is fantastic: the long-sleeve technical shirt is something I’d definitely wear again, the medal is awesome, and what was even better was the gigantic California Bear medal I won for completing ALL THREE RACES! Project Sport does a good job with these things. Great pre-race expo, good volunteer support, and a good vibe all around. This is a bucket-list Half.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
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SWAG
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Very cool course showcasing the landmarks of Oakland. Packet pickup was better organized than the sister race in Livermore. Could have used a little more volunteer support during the last … MORE

Very cool course showcasing the landmarks of Oakland. Packet pickup was better organized than the sister race in Livermore. Could have used a little more volunteer support during the last 5k around Lake Merritt because the course path was a tad confusing in a couple of places and I got momentarily worried that I was following Sunday morning joggers instead of fellow racers. No way to close off the Lake Merritt trail, though. You just have to dodge a few walkers, it’s not that big of a deal. The potholes and uneven pavement mentioned in other reviews were really not that bad if you’re used to trail running. A bit of hill work from about Mile 6 to 7, but not as much as Livermore. I debated giving the “Race Swag” a 5-shoe rating, because the medal and Mason jar and Brita water bottle were all very cool. Only the Virtual Goodie Bag could have been a little better.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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If you run the 15K, you'll finish at the same time as the 5K run/walkers. Race volunteers needed to be more active in instructing the casual 5Kers to move over. … MORE

If you run the 15K, you’ll finish at the same time as the 5K run/walkers. Race volunteers needed to be more active in instructing the casual 5Kers to move over. In the last mile, I found myself dodging stroller pushers and people walking 4-abreast enjoying light-hearted conversations. The finishing chute needs to be longer and pushed back from the line. As soon as I crossed, I was elbow to elbow with other finishers. The water table was on the other side of me and I couldn’t even get to it.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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This is a combination street and trail run, although the trails are paved. Decent hill from Mile 7.5 to Mile 9. This was my first Half and a lot of … MORE

This is a combination street and trail run, although the trails are paved. Decent hill from Mile 7.5 to Mile 9. This was my first Half and a lot of fun to run. Well organized, except for packet pick-up which took entirely too long.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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