Nike Women’s Half Marathon SF Course + Training

Nike Women's Half SF Course Map is Here!

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. (Nike)

A few weeks ago, I announced that I’m running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco on October 19 as part of a Nike media group. I was waiting for Nike to release the course map before I decide if the race will be the scene of my sub-2 hour half marathon attempt.

Well, the course map is finally here! For the 11th edition of the race, Nike has drawn a completely new route through San Francisco.

Nike Women's Half SF Course Map is Here!

Course Map

Like years of yore, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon starts in San Francisco’s Union Square.

But instead of heading north to the Marina and Presidio, the first three miles take runners through the city streets, including the iconic Alamo Square neighborhood with its rows of Victorian houses.

Nike Women's Half SF Course Map is Here!

San Francisco’s Alamo Square neighborhood. (Nike)

Miles 4 through 8 tour the bucolic 1,017-acre Golden Gate Park before another mile through the often-foggy Richmond District.

The next three miles wind through the Presidio, a former military base turned park, where runners will have spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The final mile takes participants to the finish in the Marina.

Nike Women's Half SF Course Map is Here!

The Golden Gate Bridge in the distance (Nike)

Still on deck are views of Alcatraz and the downtown skyline, along with some of San Francisco’s infamous hills.

Perhaps best of all, those iconic little blue boxes from Tiffany’s will await runners at the red-carpet finish. Finisher’s medal? Nah. Finisher’s necklace. That will be a first for me.

Nike Women's Half Marathon SF Course + Training

Runners get Tiffany necklaces at the finish. (Nike)

Now for those hills. A Nike rep likened the Mile 2 hill into Alamo Square to a “steady stair climb.” Yikes! Thankfully, it’s followed by a largely downhill section for a few easy miles through Golden Gate Park.

Two more moderate climbs await between miles 7 and 9. But the final incline through the Presidio at Mile 10 is the grandmother of them all with roughly 250 feet of elevation gain. Get ready to save some strength and dig deep. But once you reach the pinnacle, it’s smooth sailing from there. The last 2 miles are fabulously flat.

Training with the Nike Women’s Half Marathon App
Nike Women's Half Marathon SF Course Map & Training

My training plan

To help me prepare for the course, I’ve been using the Nike Women’s Half Marathon App, which gives runners race information, links to Nike’s Run Clubs in 17 cities, and three 12-week training plans to choose from: beginner, intermediate and advanced.

I’m on the intermediate plan doing workouts on my own, with my running team the New York Harriers, and with Nike+ NYC Live in New York City. So far I’ve done runs with Nike along the Hudson on Manhattan’s West Side and in Central Park. I’ve got a few more on the schedule in the next month.

Since the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco will be a tune-up race for me before the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon on November 23, I’ve been hitting my training hard. And by hard, I mean completing workouts as presribed: an 8-mile progression run finishing at marathon pace, an easy 2-miler with strides thrown in, long runs that help target pacing, and more.

Nike Women's Half Marathon SF Course + Training

Post-triathlon with my racing buddy, Tania (

With four weeks of training behind me, I’m feeling good and incredibly motivated. I haven’t been doing quite as much running mileage as my plan calls for because I’ve also been swimming and cycling. In Week 1, I ran 20 miles, Weeks 2 and 3 were both 25 miles and Week 4 was 26 miles.

But with my last triathlon of the season behind me, I can focus all my attention on running. Now in Week 5, I’ll tick it up to 30 miles. Before the half marathon in seven weeks, I’ll top out at 40 miles a week. Then I’ll have another two hard weeks of marathon training before a three week taper into the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon.

I feel like pulling a Harold Zidler from Moulin Rouge! and screaming, “Everything’s going so well!” But I know that training can change as quickly as the wind. So instead, I’m simply grateful that I’m motivated and on track. That certainly isn’t always the case.

Will I attempt my sub-2 at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco? With those challenging climbs, I’d rather not. Ideally, I’ll find a flat half marathon to race close to home some other weekend in October, and instead use Nike as great hill training. We’ll see.

For now, I’m going to start tackling the hills of Central Park like I tackle a pint of Ben & Jerry’s—that is, with gusto.

As mentioned above, I’m attending the race courtesy of Nike as part of a media group. As always, all posts and opinions are purely my own. I’m always honest about my experiences. Seriously. For more information, read my Disclosure policy.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


08 2014

18 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    The race looks like it will be amazing. I think it is a wise choice to pick a flatter route to go for speed. This hilly course will be “speed training in disguise” – it will make you faster for your marathon.

    • Karla Bruning

      This is definitely a great course for marathon training. Can’t wait to run it!

  2. 3

    This looks amazing! I have heard some good stuff about this race, but your pictures make it look even more tempting….someday :) Love that view of the bridge, now thats a profile picture :) I know what you mean about waiting to see a course map before you decide if it is a PR attempt or not, but looks like a good course for it :)
    Tina Muir recently posted..Chicago Marathon Training Update #4My Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      A few of those hills look scary, but the rest looks amazing! Definitely excited to run this one.

  3. 5

    It looks like an awesome course and an amazing race!!

    Good luck with the rest of your training! I have no doubt you’ll crush a sub 2 soon! :)
    Kaella (On The Run) recently posted..Things I’m Loving Friday #20My Profile

  4. 7

    I like the fact that there are so many different things to see along the race route. That’ll make it more fun to run.
    Tina@GottaRunNow recently posted..Your Race Recaps! (8/29)My Profile

  5. 9

    What great views! I hope you have a fantastic race, PR attempt or not.
    Sadye recently posted..RetirementMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks! I really excited to run that course.

  6. 11

    I would just like to point out how awesome it is that you referenced Moulin Rouge in this post. I love that movie!

    Glad to hear training is going well. This race looks like it’s going to be incredible!

  7. 13

    Unless one plans on running in Golden Gate Park or along the waterfront, there aren’t any flat ground to do a long run in SF. It’s a hilly city, one that makes Harlem Hills look like flat ground.

    I’m jealous that you’ll be in SF. I love it so much and miss it. Have a great time there.

    Why don’t you do the Trenton Half Marathon in November with me for your 2-hr PR attempt? Because of my lingering bronchitis, my former plans for a PR attempt for Bird-in-Hand Half is out the window. I’m looking for another half to do in November and this one looks promising.
    Elle recently posted..What to Pack and How to Plan for a Week-long Trek to Salkantay and Machu PicchuMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Ooh, Trenton has a nice looking elevation chart! I’ve love to do that, but it’s a bit too close to Philly Marathon for me–2 weeks out. I’d rather race something in October and give my legs more time to rest for the marathon. Sorry you haven’t been able to shake that bronchitis. It’s like they say–getting to the starting line is half the battle!!

  8. 15

    Sounds like your training is going great. I ran the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Fran last year. It was an awesome race! I was intimidated by the hills going into the race last year, but honestly enjoyed them. Sure they are tough work, but you get the pay off of the downhill too. I think you’ll do great, and maybe even surprise yourself with that sub 2:00!
    Beth @ Miles and Trials recently posted..7 Random Facts About MeMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Beth! Glad to hear you enjoyed the race and the hills. Can’t wait!

  9. 17

    Oh, the blue box is definitely worth the hills!! And you’ll have fantastic views to power you up the hills. I think I ran down the hill that you’ll be going up in Presidio as part of the San Fran half. Views were gorgeous but the downhill was slightly brutal (and the uphill to get to the downhill). But the course looks amazing – especially the finish!!
    Emily recently posted..Dumbo Double Dare 2014: Disneyland 10KMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      I’m pretty excited about that blue box! And agree–the views will make the hills totally worth it! I remember driving through the Presidio a few years back. Excited to run it!