The 2012 San Francisco Marathon is set to begin at 5:30 a.m. PDT on Sunday, July 29, and it's shaping up to be one of the best ever. Invited runners will begin the race first, followed by sub-seeds and then the rest of the field in subsequent waves.
The arduous 26.2-mile race isn't the only draw of the weekend, as there are various other attractions related to the marathon that will cause San Francisco natives and people from far and wide to flock to the City by the Bay.
With tons of action you're sure to miss some of it, but these next five slides will serve to give you a solid rundown of the most exciting events.
If there is one thing that is harder than running 26.2 miles as fast as you can, it's running twice that amount.
In order to run in the 52.4-mile Ultramarathon, prospective participants had to join a Worth The Hurt athlete team and raise at least a $1,500 contribution to the respective team's cause.
Those running in the event will take on the 26.2-mile course two times, but not in succession.
The first lap will get underway on Sunday at midnight, and competitors must wait until at least 5:30 a.m. PDT to begin their second lap when the rest of the field starts. I can imagine that it is hard enough to run 26.2 miles and keep going, but a few hours break in between must be brutal on the legs.
Things like this go to show you that there are great, charitable people in the world working toward a common goal.
The five-kilometer race and progressive marathon format is a nice little twist on road-running tradition.
The five-kilometer course wraps around the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park. Some participants will only be running in this leg, but other, more ambitious characters will be building up to it.
Those who registered for the progressive marathon are to run 23.1 miles leading up to the day of the race, keeping a record of each and every mile they complete. These numbers get written down on a form that is then handed in before the five-kilometer race.
Participants then run the five kilometers to reach the 26.2-mile mark.
It definitely isn't easy, but it's less strenuous than running the entire thing in a few hours.
How could you not smile at the thought of hundreds of little children desperately running for the finish line in San Francisco on Sunday?
Everybody is a winner in this one, as all children will be awarded a shirt, dog-tag medal, bib and free food and drink for participating. All proceeds benefit The San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center (per SFMarathon.com)
There are three different distances for the kids to run: one mile, half-mile or the 100-yard dash. The price to participate is $25, a small fee to pay for making the event a family affair.
Every good marathon runner knows that pre-race carbo-loading is key to an impressive performance on race day.
Italian restaurant Buca di Beppo will be providing the pasta to participants on Saturday night for a pasta feed at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Bart Yasso, a marathon guru of sorts, will be giving a pair of motivational speeches to those in attendance.
Not only is there a speech to look forward to, but the menu is pretty solid as well. Runners will be able to stuff their bellies with baked rigatoni, penne basilica, spaghetti and meatballs or penne ala vodka.
In other news, there will also be music and wine.
It would be downright irresponsible to leave the VIP party off the list of top events.
The VIP party is chock-full of fun before the race and after. Not only do you get to hang out with a lot of very important people, you get some cool gear, good food and a post-race massage.
Once again, the committee is on its game in terms of perfect fuel for the race. Bagels will be provided for carbohydrates, and bananas will be given out to prevent muscle cramps before the race.
The fun starts after the race, though, where ticket holders can munch on breakfast foods and burgers and enjoy an assortment of beer, mimosas and bloody marys as a reward for a long day.