San Francisco Marathon 2012: Comparing the Race to Other Big City Marathons

Steven GerwelContributor IIIJuly 29, 2012

Photo Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
Photo Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

The San Francisco Marathon allows runners to compete in one of the truly premier and historic cities of the United States.

The course takes runners through the famous streets of San Francisco and over the massive Golden Gate Bridge into the redwood-populated Golden Gate park. 

The epic scenery and the historic buildings create a nearly perfect marathon course, and the cool northern California summer temperatures make the task tolerable and even enjoyable. 

The event has over 24,000 participants and offers five separate events—full marathon, two half marathons, 5K and progressive marathon—according the marathon's official website.

But while the San Francisco marathon is a terrific event, there are other major cities that offer well-known races for their citizens as well.

How does San Francisco compare?


ING New York City Marathon

The ING New York City Marathon takes place in early November, which not only provides cooler weather for the competitors, but the Fall leaves provide pleasant scenery throughout the course. 

According to the official website, the course is 26.2 miles and begins in Staten Island and ends in Central Park. 

Though New York surely cannot match the natural scenery of San Francisco, the course takes runners through a truly elite city and offers over $600,000 in prizes (according to the official website). 


Bank of America Chicago Marathon

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon takes place in early October, which gives runners an escape from the typical Midwest summertime humidity. 

And unlike San Francisco, which offers treacherous hills that are excruciating for the participants, the Chicago marathon offers a flat and easy surface, which is ideal for first-time marathon participants. 

The course starts in Grant Park and takes runners by Lake Michigan and through the city for a full 26.2-mile distance (according the the official website).

The city of Chicago is not as breathtaking as New York or San Francisco, and the city certainly lacks the scenery of Northern California, but Chicago is still a top-notch city that gives Midwest citizens easy access to a great marathon. 


Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is one of the more famous races in the country and takes place annually every Patriots Day in April. 

The race takes runners through arguably the most historic city in the entire country. According to the official website, the course begins on Main Street and eventually finishes by the John Hancock tower. 

The Spring race is a great way for runners to experience the sun after a long New England winter. 

The marathon offers a variety of events, including a half marathon, a 5k and a 10k.