Are Too Many Races Nothing But Hype?

San Francisco Sunrise

San Francisco Sunrise

I ran 15 miles this morning. It was the longest run I’ve ever completed in 28 years. It was great and hard and punishing and rewarding and tiring, all at once and I’m quite proud of pushing myself to reach my goal. In a couple weeks, I’ll run 18 miles; my marathon isn’t that far away.

This morning was also the SF Nike Women’s Half Marathon. I thought I’d watch a little of it since it started at the same time as my run and the course at the 1-mile mark ran past the corner of my street. There’s so much build up for this race. It costs a whopping $200. The only other Half I can think of in that price range are any of the Disney “runs”, again, with massive hype. I’m not a Disney person, so those have no appeal to me, and I’m equally not a Nike fan, so I’ve never understood the big draw for this “race”. And this morning made me like it even less.

The front part of the race included runners that were pacing nicely, but they petered out quickly and even at the 1 mile mark, the walkers started. In fact, most of the “racers” were walkers, and they weren’t walking fast at all. I shrugged it off and ran off to continue my route.

I ran into the Slow Walkers again at my 13-mile mark. Their race was around the 10-mile mark, so they still had a little to go. I was hoping that they would be completed with this portion of the race by now. We were on the bottom, level portion of Lincoln Blvd in the Presidio and several thousand Slow Walkers hadn’t started the ascent up the hill towards the Golden Gate Bridge. They were in no hurry to do so. They were strolling as if in a suburban shopping mall, taking selfies, dancing around, doing everything but working up a sweat.

How about just going to brunch and letting someone who really wants to run and do their best take your spot?

These hyped-up “Fun Runs” regardless of whether they are 5Ks or Halfs, give runners a bad name. We runners work hard to be the best we can. Sure, the vast majority of us will never win a race or even place, but we don’t treat it like it’s just a “thing to do” or a place to party.

I place the Nike Women’s Half Marathon on par with Color “Runs” and all the other silly money makers. If all you want to do is stroll along, never break a sweat, never train at all and just go do something different than Eggs Benedict at the local spot on the corner, they’re for you. If you want to really go out and run and do something good for your body, skip it and find a decent race.




  1. I too have learned a lot about a race by happening to run on or near the same route. That type of reconnaissance is so much more valuable than googling it.

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