Toky Photography

The Spirit of The San Francisco Marathon Part I

Posted in Marathons, Photo Essay, Running, San Francisco, Toky Photography by tokyphotography on July 27, 2010


I’ve completed three Los Angeles Marathons and one Nike Human Race. On my last LA Marathon back in March, I decided to take my camera with me and do a photo essay (see that post here). I posted it on my blog and tweeted about  it. Over the next few days my photo essay was seen by more than 6,000+ people (the Marathon had 26,000 runners) and was re-tweeted over and over again. The best part of it all was all the comments that people posted as replies to my photo essay as well as all the emails I received from runners that were grateful someone had done this for them as they could use it to show their families and friends what it was like on the course. It also helped me realize we all tend to have the same thoughts as we are running.

Since then I’ve wanted to go run different marathons across the USA and document the spirit of each city. Thanks from a little help from the organizers of the race, I present you: The Spirit of The San Francisco Marathon Part I (“Getting There”).

My flight was delayed 1:30 hrs because of "fog" in San Francisco.... Once we landed I could see what they meant.

Cool airport in SF. Second only on my list to the San Antonio, TX one. I love airports!

I took the metro from the airport to the San Francisco Design Center, where the Marathon Expo took place. This was my first sight as soon as I stepped out of the metro. "Dorothy, we are clearly in San Francisco!"

I walked about five blocks from the Civic Center station to the Design Center. As you were walking towards it you could see more an more people heading over there. Other out-of-towners, like me, were wondering if we were heading in the right direction. We GPS'd it and we made it.

The Expo was divided in three areas. Goodie bag/bib pickup, exhibitors, and lecture area/activity/yoga area.

This place was TINY. Not chaotic or crazy, but it would have not hurt for it to be a tad bit bigger. I hit about 7 people with my backpack! (sorry folks!)

First things first, pick my bib and my timing chip.

Loved all the young volunteers. They knew their stuff and were excited to be there.

I made a point to include this image on the essay because I truly admire the kindness and effort that all volunteers put into this. For me marathons are about two things: running and community. This particular marathon made that very clear to me and I will touch on that subject again on other images in part II of the essay. But for now a BIG "THANK YOU" to all the peeps that donated of their time and effort pre, during and after the marathon.

Got my bib, timing chip, t-shirt and goodie bag. Gotta say.... this was a neat goodie bag. Not plastic (yay!), reusable, well-designed an cool. I will certainly re-use it often.

This are half-marathoners picking up their shirts. Dark blue for the full marathon runners and light blue for all the half marathon runners.

Next up, the merchandise area. I was really blown away by how cool the merchandise was. The San Francisco peeps know how to design stuff and it was evident in ALL their merchandise. All the materials were great, soft and moisture wicking, but they also looked really cool and wearable. Two thumbs up!

Even the water bottles are rad! You will probably be able to pick some of the stuff you see here:

On Monday, the day after the marathon, when I was doing a little sight-seeing I saw 6 people wearing this jacket!

One last one. I will definitely be picking some stuff online.

Alright, next up, the lecture area. Pictured here: Dane Rauschenberg with his lecture "Ignore the Impossible". You can read more about Dane here: and here: This was my introduction to Dane and I'm already hooked reading his blog. Before Dane, my running hero Dean Karnazes gave his lecture. And I missed it. Damn FOG!

This time around I made an effort to visit every booth and check out what each one was about. Everything from t-shirts, socks, massages, marathons in other cities, juices, socks, improving performance, etc.

This guy for example is making custom shirts with your bib number so that way you don't have to wear the paper bib.

This was super cool. An old-school photo booth! You can check out the photos taken at the booth here:

LOVED LOVED LOVED this. The DIY area where you were provided with cardboard, markers, crayons, glue, glitter, etc.. and you could make the signs for the people you were going to cheer for. That was a really cool detail of the expo. Just as the photo booth, the good design in all products and other little things I would see during the race that made me appreciate the care that the SF marathon organizers took in all the little details.

Another area of the Expo was the Lululemon Athletica yoga class. Let me tell you something... I do my best running when I also do yoga. I haven't done it in a while but seeing this was a good reminder that I have to get myself back into it. Yoga aligns your body, it makes you feel light as a feather when you run. During the height of my yoga-running training two years ago I did my fastest 26 mile training run in 4:09 hrs. I haven't been able to top that 😦

Also, a bunch of my female friends love to wear this stuff. So I didn't even know they also have a men's line. Yesterday I stopped at their store here in SF and was pleasantly surprised at their men's selection. You can tell their stuff is designed by people that practice what they preach. I bought this tank that is made of a fabric called Silverscent that makes the absorbed sweat (because it's also moisture wicking) not stink. But also, the fabric in-front of your nipples is different to prevent chafing! Amazing!

So anyways, back to the essay! I was meaning to say that Lululemon peeps were there offering free "Yoga for Runners" classes.


It was neat that every exhibitor was also giving away free samples. That's how I've come across some of my favorite products. Someone gave me a sample at an expo and I got hooked.

That t-shirt cracked me up! Little did I know that I would have that thought over and over the next day!

This is a two-thumbs up not only for the organizers but for the City of San Francisco. Everywhere you go, the street, the restaurants, the hotels, anywhere, people RECYCLE! And the appropriate trash cans are not only clearly labeled but they also have photos that make it so much easier to know which thing goes in each bin. Bringing that aspect of the City into the expo AND the marathon was really neat.

This was what I got hooked on at this expo. I only drink protein if it's in some sort of -chocolate- form. So far, I do my own shakes because I haven't found a chocolate drink that I like, until this from svelte. The girl at the booth said to me they are available at Whole Foods. I haven't seen them yet, but I will definitely go see if they are available at my local Whole Foods in LA. Seriously, try the chocolate one. YUMMY!

Interesting thing. No Adidas, no Nike, no K-Swiss, no Reebok, no New Balance, no Asics..... why no major athletic brands sponsoring the marathon or present at the expo? I have no clue. Skechers which is a brand that to be honest I didn't even know had running shoes was there. I'm curious to try their selection. I have a friend that does swear by the Shape-ups though.

Alright, I think I'm all "expoed" out.

Great expo, lots of people, lots of things to try out.

On my way out and to the hotel. Something that I hadn't experienced before because I've only run marathons in the City I live in, are the shuttle buses. Right in-front of the expo a big shuttle bus was driving people to and from the expo to the Hotels. Being an out of towner I really appreciated that.

Now at the Hotel this is one of the views from the 10th floor of the Hyatt Embarcadero.

This is the view from my room! I could see the start line from my window.

I had to take a pic of the contents of my goodie bag once at the hotel now that I had the time to examine it. We even got olive oil! Oh and the IronMan muscle gel also came in handy that day. The bag is on the left and the t-shirt is on the right. Everyone was carrying their blue bags all over the City on Monday.

Another view from the hotel.

And another one. San Francisco is just a beautiful City. Mixing the marathon purpose of the trip with going to a City you've never been at was amazing! It really makes me want to travel-run more. I really suggest to all of you runners to pick a City you've always wanted but have never visited. Find out if the have a marathon and when, and then visit-run. You will not regret it. Somebody should start a tourism campaign based on this idea.

Ok, now I know I'm in San Francisco for sure!

After checking in, I went to see the surroundings and see where the start-finish of the marathon would take place. The area in-front of those two short buildings would be the start and finish areas.

Lots of runners everywhere. Some locals. Some visiting. Some doing a "last run" before the marathon the next day.

Before I went back to rest, I made sure I knew the area where my corral according to my bib number would be situated. I'm a fan of "dry-runs" 😉

Now, for the end of Part I "Getting There" I have a confession to make. On Thursday night I went for a run and I slightly twisted my ankle. On Friday it hurt more and on Saturday it hurt A LOT more. So much so that for a very slight second I considered not running. BUT, I couldn't do that. I don't mind the pain, in fact I'm one of those people that I like it. Actually, I think all runners like physical pain a bit. Pain makes you feel alive. It helps you overcome obstacles and train and endure and grow. So, thank God there was a Walgreens across from the hotel. I bought every pain gel, creme, spray, pill they had. I came this far... my ankle is not going to stop me. This happens to all runners, several times. To me personally I think I psych myself up every marathon... because usually something always goes wrong! But anyways, everyone sprains their ankle while training at some point... mine just happened to be now, one day before. I decided that if I couldn't run, I would walk and if I couldn't walk, I would crawl, and if I couldn't crawl, I would take photos at the start-finish line... All I knew is that -I- don't quit. If my body does, that's another thing..... (End of Part I)

Update: Part II has now been posted and can be seen here:


8 Responses

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  1. VS said, on July 28, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Hello Toky,
    Good start i.e. the part I. I’m a local but couldn’t make to the Expo, now I know what was it like. Looking forward to the 2nd (and may be 3rd ??) part. I got to this page as was searching for some coverage/pics, being my first long run (did half), to share with some relatives abroad. I love your idea of photo blogging marathon, from the runners perspective!! Just curious, what camera you are using while running and how much does your photo gear weigh?

    Keep it up, hope your ankle held up well and post the 2nd part soon.


  2. emilie odeile said, on July 28, 2010 at 12:38 am

    What a great post, Toky! I’m so impressed with you. And I think someone really SHOULD create a tourism business based on the idea of “visit-running.” Great idea. Plus all your beautiful shots made me a little homesick (in a good way!). Just lovely.

  3. […] on July 28, 2010 This is part II of The Spirit of The San Francisco Marathon. You can read part I here. 4:54:04 AM. Self portrait @ hotel just before stepping out. As soon as you came out of the hotel […]

  4. Karen said, on July 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Great documenting! I felt like I was there!

  5. said, on July 28, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks, these are a lot of fun. Hope your ankle is a lot better now. I’m an idiot who seems to always break my big toe four or five days prior to the big races. Fortunately, I can run through the pain, too, so I know what iti is like to suffer a bit in the race. Take care and RICE the ankle–rest, ice, compression and elevation.

  6. Dane said, on July 30, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Hope I made up for you missing Dean. 🙂

    • tokyphotography said, on July 30, 2010 at 12:15 am

      Hahaha, you absolutely did. And you’ve inspired me: One Man, One Camera, 52 Weekends, 52 Marathons. Or maybe, One Man, One Camera, 104 Weekends, 52 Marathons! Or something like that. Can’t wait to read your book!

  7. [[running.]] « Rusty4Hire said, on August 23, 2010 at 1:39 am

    […] Another wordpress user caught me in action. Additional photographs can be found here. […]

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