It’s only 5:30 in the morning and already you can feel the energy in the air. It is impossible not to be excited as you near Union Square. Women of all ages are stretching, taking joyous photos together and jogging up and down the crowded sidewalks to warm up. Even the cold, foggy morning doesn’t dampen these spirits. An hour before the race is set to begin, the square is alive with people talking and hugging excitedly, music blasting, walkie-talkie conversations and colorful lights under the palm trees all mingle to create an atmosphere perfect for running. Trust me, even if you’ve never run before in your life, the lead-up to the SF Nike Women’s Marathon will make you want to grab some sneakers and sprint to the starting line.
At 6:30am the crowd thickens, and as the DJ leads the countdown, everyone starts cheering and waving signs of encouragement at all the ladies (and guys!) getting ready to run. Young children sit atop their parent’s shoulders to catch a glimpse as the first wave of runners moves forward in a huge slew of color that rushes past. At mile 2.3 after conquering a massive hill, the runners are greeted by a group of local high school cheerleaders whose smiles carry them into the next phase. At Chrissy Fields as the runners round the corner and arrive at the 11 mile mark, the fog hangs heavy over the bay, but few runners slow down, even as volunteers hand out water most of them jog and drink while keeping their pace. The finish line is nowhere to be seen in this weather- most people can barely see the end of the long road in front of them, but still they press on. It is truly inspiring, and I am struck by the fact that being an athlete isn’t about your training, experience or time, it is that you keep pressing forward. That finish line wouldn’t be quite as sweet without being able to look back at the grueling 13.1 miles you left behind.
There are usually some high school and middle school runners that participate.
Thireen year old girls were out in force with Kayla Bias from Lockport, NY crossing the line in 1:44.15, Madeline Denison from Novato, CA. came in 2:01.21. Fourteen year olds Fiona Boyle was 2:05.50, and Betsy Padraza from Sunland came in with a time of 2:07.31
For the boys thirteen year olds Nikandro Negrete from San Jose finished the course in 1:47.37. Paul Paz from Tujunga ran it in 1:56.13 and Vaughn Rychlick also from Tujunga finished in 2:07.32. Fourteen year old Emmanual Aguilera-Tujunga ran in 1:43.11, Tristan Ortiz from Sunland was 1:55.15. Zacharary McKeever who is 17 rocked this course in 1:21.17 with a mile pace of 6:13.