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San Francisco Gears Up for the 12th annual Nike Women's Half Marathon


This Sunday in San Francisco, the City by the Bay’s picturesque charms will be animated by live music, a drum troupe, cheerleaders — and an estimated 25,000 women. The product of the 12th annual Nike Women’s Half Marathon, the ebullient crowd will blanket the race course, which has been planned around some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, to help motivate every level of runner to achieve her personal best. Zigzagging from urban center to verdant parkland to glittering waterfront, the race offers a powerful adrenaline charge far beyond the passive thrills of riding a cable car. 

A year in the making, the exhilarating 13.1-mile route originates at bustling Union Square. It weaves through the tech-buzzy Tenderloin, flits by the “painted ladies” of Alamo Square and skirts above Haight-Ashbury. At the 3.5-mile point, runners will enter Golden Gate Park, with its lyrical lake and botanical gardens. Heading north, they will ascend the leafy Presidio, glide by the Golden Gate Bridge and sprint towards the finish at the scenic Marina Green.

“This is about providing runners with a uniquely designed experience that not only shows off the diverse neighborhoods of the city, but challenges athletes to test their strength and endurance,” says Molly Paterno, West Brand Manager, Nike Running. This being San Francisco, hilly terrain is to be expected. “It’s a dynamic journey that builds to a crescendo, encouraging runners to leave it all on the course and finish on empty.”

That dramatic escalation occurs at mile nine, where contenders will face a demanding incline as they enter the Presidio. The terrain eventually levels out so participants can put it all on the line for the finish. “The course was designed to give runners a boost before the finish line, providing an opportunity for them to achieve their fastest mile of the race in that final stretch,” explains Paterno. “But the course design alone won’t get runners there; it’s the preparation and training that will help them conquer the course. This means a varied workout schedule of running and cross-training.” That’s where Nike’s training tools, including the NIKE+ apps, Nike+ mobile race companion and live sessions with Nike expert coaches and trainers will have benefited runners.

This year’s event is the 12th annual race in San Francisco. One of the biggest variances in the course is the final leg, which finishes at Marina Green. From 2004 to 2013, the race concluded at Ocean Beach, a windier and more remote location. The Union Square starting point is also noteworthy. “It’s the only race that kicks off in the heart of the city’s central district,” says Terry Davis, CEO and Founder of Tri-California Events, who has provided race-directing services for 11 consecutive years. 

San Francisco is a city where every block tells a new story, a notion echoed in this inspiring course. It blends natural majesty, cultural diversity and grueling altitude, climbing to approximately 300 feet in areas. Yet, the payoff is sweet. “Finishing with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island are breathtaking,” promises Paterno.

The half marathon is the final race of the year in the Nike Women’s Event Series, which began in March with the Nagoya Women’s Marathon and NTC Tour Shanghai. Since 2004, the San Francisco event has enticed runners from 54 countries and all 50 U.S. states.