Lake Merced Half Marathon Race Report – Bryan Gray

Race: Lake Merced Half Marathon

Runner: Bryan Gray

Race Date: 08/07/2022

Location: Lake Merced, San Francisco, CA


Strava Activity Link:

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  1. Cool weather in August
  2. Very friendly event staff
  3. Only $10 to enter

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

There were only 60 runners and the restroom facilities at the park was a single portajohn at the start and one about half way through, both of which weren’t well cleaned. You could apparently go to the golf course clubhouse to use the restrooms, and I believe at least 1 person did.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

The club that put on the race puts on $10 races almost every weekend. No shirts, and you get a ribbon instead of a medal, which makes sense for a $10 race.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

I paced pretty well through the race, but did slow a little as the race went on

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

The race is 3 loops of the lake and there are 2 noticeable uphill sections, each about 30-40 ft gain. Since you run 3 loops, that means 6 total. The 2nd one is about half a mile from the end, and it was tough on the 3rd loop.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

There are very fast runners who participate in this event. Make sure not to pace off them at the start.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The first loop you go down a dirt trail to a bridge. There is a guide there so it’s easy to find, bit it’s important to know it’s there.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

The lake is very pretty. There are nice homes on the east side and apartments on the west side

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It was a little more hilly than I expected, but it wasn’t tough. My coros adjusted pace said I lost about 3 seconds per mile because of the hills.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

They weren’t the best organized, but for a $10 race it was better than I would expect. I got a timing tag for the 4.5 miler because the person who checked me in didn’t know which tags were for which race and that caused confusion at the end, but they cleared it up pretty quickly.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

I was shocked how fast people were. My 1:36:40 half marathon was only good enough for 18/41 men and 20/61 overall.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Entering is simple

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

There was only water and nuun at the start area and at 4 and 8.5 miles. There was a water fountain at 2, 6.5, and 11 miles. My wife waited over there and handed me a cup of water each lap, then drove to the finish line after I passed the 3rd time. At the finish they had some snacks and it was a lot better than I expected.

Weather and typical race conditions

50-60° is very common.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

If you don’t have family to help, bring a little water since there’s only 2 stops.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

It is very family friendly, except for the restrooms.

How’s the Swag?

A finishers ribbon, but at the price, it’s worth it if you’re local, especially if you just need a tune up race.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

7 stars for locals. 3 if you’d have to travel. The organization means for it to be an “Anyone can run” race, so it’s very affordable, but there’s nothing special for people from outside the area. I drove 75 minutes for it and it was worth it. Not worth it if you’d have to get a hotel.

Interested in hiring a coach for your next race? We’ve got you covered.