On October 19, participants from all over the world descended on San Francisco to run 13.1 miles to beat cancer—and to put on the fabulous race-day finisher's medal: a Tiffany's necklace.
This annual event is like no other. Nike takes over San Francisco's Union Square for the weekend with an humongous expo that's filled with race-day essentials, local and healthy food, race course previews, Paul Mitchell hair stylists to get your hairdo race-day ready, run coaches, shoe analysis, pre-run shakeout run and stretch and packet pick up. There's also a race-day store filled with dozens of race-specific t-shirts, tanks, jackets and shoes.
Besides the spectacle that takes over Union Square for the weekend, the course challenges the mind and body of the women who set out to dominate the roller coaster-course.
There's more to the race than the famous San Francisco hills. Here's why the Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco brings thousands of participants to the Bay Area.
Tiffany's Necklace1 of 12
Forget the traditional race-day medal, participants receive a stunning Tiffany's necklace. This year's design was engraved with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and the date of the race, which was October 19, 2014.
Many women dream of untying an elegant white bow that wraps around the infamous tiny blue box. Once opened, participant's eyes widen, jaws drop and even some tears roll down cheeks with excitement knowing they dominated those San Francisco hills. And let's be honest, it's a one-of-a-kind Tiffany's necklace.
Challenging Course2 of 12
Not many people jump for joy when they have to run hills. And when people say San Francisco, the immediate response is, "oh those hills are steep—almost impossible."
To the participants of the Nike Women's Half, nothing is impossible. A common saying overheard throughout race weekend, "Bring on those hills. I'm ready to make them mine." It's a hard course, but the sense of self-accomplishment that comes after finishing it is unbelievable. Hills are common in San Francisco, but participants don't reach the steep, long hill until mile 10—just when legs are tired and achy. Once runners make it too the top, they are rewarded with a downhill sprint and a fast and flat finish to the finish line.
Firemen3 of 12
At the finish line, participants are congratulated by dozens of firemen dressed up in tuxedos. Here women get to take pictures with the gentlemen to celebrate their accomplishments.
On-Course Cheer Stations, Volunteers and Spectators4 of 12
A race with constant cheering, support and fans takes the edge off of the grueling 13.1 miles. And without the men and women who wake up earlier than the runners to prepare the water, gels, orange slices, there wouldn't be an event at all.
The local cheerleaders, bands and DJs who come out to support each runner are a huge help. The kind and motivational words keeps the mind strong and allows runners to forget about that blister that's forming on the pinky toe or the painful hill that's 1/4 mile ahead.
Run for a Cause5 of 12
Nike and Team in Training for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society have been partners since 2004 for the Run Nike Women Series. Participants raise funds to support cancer research. In return, they receive personalized training from coaches, training clinics, and support and camaraderie of a team. Since the first Nike Women's Marathon in 2004, TNT participants in the Run Nike Women's Series have raised more than $147.9 million.
Internationally Eye-Catching6 of 12
Participants fly in from all over the world to run through the streets of San Francisco. From NY to Europe, these runner's have one commonality: to get their Tiffany's necklace.
Explore San Francisco7 of 12
Runners are rewarded with spectacular views of the famous San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alamo Square, Golden Gate Park and the Marina. It's a phenomenal way to see all that this city has to offer.
Incredible Finisher's Village8 of 12
Food galore, massage envy and more freebies, Once runners cross the finish line, they're met with food, massages and freebies. Participants can recover from the course with a little pampering and local, healthy food.
Equinox was available to stretch runners during the post-race festivities—a lifesaver for those tired legs. The scenic backdrop of water views is spectacular as spectators and runners sit on the grassy field enjoying their goodies and listening to music.
Shop Till You Drop9 of 12
With the expo in Union Square, Nike Town just around the corner and pop up shops throughout the city, participants have every opportunity to check out the latest Nike gear and We Run SF items, which include limited T-shirts, pants, shoes, jackets, hats and bags. Post race, the finisher's apparel is revealed giving runners more limited edition options to purchase.
Training App10 of 12
We Run Women's Series includes a free app for participants to use to train with. Here runners can meet with local Nike run clubs to meet fellow participants and get a training tips.
Bragging Rights11 of 12
Twelve weeks of training, unpredictable weather and 13.1 miles of San Francisco hills are enough challenges for runners to earn bragging rights. Rewarded with stunning famous views and the city skyline, runners in the Nike Women's Half Marathon should be proud of what they accomplished. Show off that well-deserved Tiffany's necklace. All the bruises, muscle strains and other aches and pains were worth it. Accomplishing something that many cannot do is a reward in itself. Congratulations to all finishers.