Fifteen thousand runners descended upon San Francisco’s Union Square on October 22nd, 2006, for the third annual event—an event that sold out in a matter of weeks. You may be wondering what is it about this race that so many want to run it on the same day as the Chicago Marathon?
One word sums up the greatest perk for many runners: Tiffany & Co. Yes, THAT Tiffany. Many running events, especially marathons, hand out clunky finisher’s medals attached to a wide ribbon strip that most people never wear again after race day. However, when you get a custom Tiffany & Co. Finishers’ Necklace in sterling silver, it’s something you tend to wear beyond your race day celebrations.
It doesn’t stop with the finisher’s necklace. This event caters to women from start to finish. Sure men are allowed to enter, but their numbers are small and probably comprise less than 1,000 of the 15,000 runners. The marathon is, first and foremost, a celebration of female runners.
The pre-race expo in Union Square is organized with amazing efficiency. It took me less than two minutes to get my bib, chip and have my chip activated. They hand you a goody bag that doubles as your race day drop bag. Attached to your bib is a sticker matching your race number that you attach to your bag for later identification.
There are two main tents at the expo: “Run Like a Girl” and “Feel Like a Girl.” Inside the “Feel Like a Girl Tent” were free massages, manicures, pedicures and the like. Pampering of the likes you would expect at a women’s marathon! The “Run Like a Girl” tent offered gait analysis, shoes and clothing for sale, custom race bands and more. I have only been to a couple of marathons but numerous other running events and I can easily say this was the best organized race I’ve seen, and the expo-day activities were by the fast the best without a doubt.
Union Square is filled with great places to shop, including Macy’s, Tiffany & Co. and Niketown. Niketown carries a full assortment of custom marathon apparel and accessories, most of them with the phrase “Run Like a Girl.” Of course, the weekend is just beginning and after a good nights sleep it’s time to the run the marathon on Sunday.
By 6 a.m. Sunday morning there were already thousands of runners getting ready to race—an overwhelming majority of them wearing the purple tank tops marking them as Team in Training participants. The elite runners took off to a roar of the crowd at 6:40 a.m. Shortly after they left, we were entertained by music, a motivational speech by Samuelson and right at 7 a.m. the race began after a beautiful singing of the National Anthem, and the applause and cheers of all.
The race course was very well marked and stocked with tasty goodies like Jamba Juice, Clif Shot Blocks, Gatorade Endurance, Earth Water, Luna Bars, Animal Crackers (near the SF Zoo) and the Chocolate Mile provided by Ghiradeli. After all, it’s not a women’s event without chocolate! Beautiful vistas were mixed with waves of fog as runners passed by the Financial District, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Presidio neighborhood, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Golden Gate Park, Lake Merced, and a 2.5 mile finish along the Great Highway next to the crashing waves of the Pacific. Other perks along the course included a coat check at mile 2.5, many cheer stations to keep you encouraged, an oxygen bar for some “fresh” air, pedi-care station complete with a change of socks waiting for you, and of course plenty of bands and DJs.
All this leads up to an unforgettable ending when you cross the finish line and are greeted by a firefighter in a tux handing your a little blue box! Of course you also get a cute finisher’s shirt that says “Ran Like a Girl” with marathon or half marathon finisher written on the back. There is also plenty of post-race food, entertainment and fun. I think most of you right now hear “little blue box” and “chocolate” and are probably eager already to sign up for next year! I have many friends who haven’t run a marathon before but want to make this on their first when they hear about the perks. After all, getting women to run—and to run a marathon is part of what this event is all about in the first place.
So what are you waiting for? Get together a group of friends, or just do it yourself and make a new friend along the course. Next October in San Francisco, it’ll be a great time to Run Like a Girl!