15 great reasons to run the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon & 5k!

(I wrote this post back in 2016 with a discount code for 2017. I’ve amended this post in July 2017 with a new code for 2018! Hope you can use it.)

Last year…I was ridiculously chuffed to be chosen to be a Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon and 5k race ambassador last week. (That mouthful is its official title). Thrilled to pieces. Because I really love the ‘Kaiser Half’ and I’m so excited to be part of it in a slightly more tangible way. And because IT COMES WITH A DISCOUNT FOR YOU PEOPLE!

You can save $5 on race entry with the code CAT5OFF (This is the 2018 code). Now, $5 isn’t going to change your life significantly but it would pay for 2 coffees or a gallon of milk or a couple of gels or a few birthday cards!! So bear that in mind!

I promise not to become some obnoxious nightmare constantly plugging the race but I am going to encourage you to run it, assuming you’re local, AND I’ll encourage you to use my code. In the interests of full disclosure, I get free entry if enough people use my code! The race is February 4th, so put it in your diary now!


I’ve run the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon twice…once in 2012 and once in 2015 so I have put my money where my mouth is TWICE and would totally recommend the race. And herewith are 15 good reasons why I think you should run it in 2017!

1 – Beautiful course

It is a really lovely course. You start by the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, run round the Panhandle, back into the park through the museums, cruise effortlessly (honestly) down through the park and out onto the oceanfront. You head down the ocean for three miles and then back up for three miles to finish in the park. It is beautiful!!

The Conservatory of Flowers Source
The Conservatory of Flowers

2 – VERY PR-able!

In 2015, I went for a PR and totally failed but if you manage NOT to set out waaay too fast, this is a VERY PR-able course. The first stretch is flat, then you get an incredible couple of miles downhill where you literally feel like you’re flying and you’re God’s gift to running. Then you have a flat six-mile stretch along the ocean. If you can hold it together mentally for that final stretch, this is the course to set a PR on!

3 – It measures accurately.

One of the things we most want in a race is accurate measuring, isn’t it! This race? Bang on. It’s certified as well.

4 – Portaloos.

The other thing we want most in a race is plenty of portapotties at the start. This race? Plentiful.

SF Half Loos

5 – Well organised

This race has been going on for 34 years now and they’ve got the organization down pat. From the shuttle buses from the ocean car-parking to the start line to the plentiful aid stations, you don’t need to worry.

6 – Motivation for winter training

We’re lucky in California that our winters are not British, Scandinavian or even Canadian, but most of us need a goal to work towards on the grey days and the dark mornings. The Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon & 5k’s early February date is an awesome goal to keep you running, eating well and training hard through the winter.

7 – Teaches you character

I’ve said that the course is PR-able and it is. But that second half along the ocean is mentally brutal. In 2015, I emerged from the park feeling a million dollars and with my 40th Birthday PR in the bag! Over the next six miles, I learned a lot about early race pacing, about mental fortitude and the guts to keep running when frankly you want to sit on the side and cry. This race is PR-able but it’s not easy!

8 – Good swag

Not everyone is motivated by medals but I am!!  Runners of both the Half and the 5k get medals and cotton-blend T-shirts! You can upgrade and buy a tech shirt if you want.

9 – 5k for friends and family

If your cheering squad need some entertainment, there’s a 5k! I’m actually going to be running the 5k in 2017 rather than the half! The 5k is basically downhill so I’m going to be gutting it out for what will probably be my fastest 5k ever. My son PR’d the 5k when he was 5, so if he can, you can! Or your family and friends can!!

One 5-year old and his 5k PR
One 5-year old and his 5k PR

10 – Get your number mailed to you FOR FREE!

How blissful is this? For NO CHARGE, the kind people organizing the race will mail you your number. No more panicking in the early hours at the length of the packet pick-up queue. No schlepping into the city a day early to go to an expo. Just wait till your number pops through your letter box. Perfect.

11 – Riding on a school bus

Maybe this is a British thing but one of the highlights for me in 2015 was riding the shuttle bus from the oceanfront parking to the race start…on a yellow school bus. I had never been on one before and it made my flipping day. I was pleased to note the hatch in the roof in case I needed to do a Keanu!


12 – After-Race shenanigans

At the end of the race there’s a ‘party’ for runners and supporters alike. Lots of sponsor stands giving out freebie, food trucks for refueling… it’s a lot of fun!

13 – Birthday Brunch afterwards

My birthday falls the day after the race so BRUNCH, PEOPLE!!!

kaiser brunch

14 – No FOMO

SO many local runners do the Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon that if you don’t, you may feel a little…sad. Don’t be sad, come and run!

15 – Save money

If you sign up for the half now using the code CAT5OFF it’s just $65. The 5k (with the above code) would be just $40. Kids signing up for the 5k are just $20 (with the same code).

And that’s you committed to running throughout the winter!

See you there?

Kaiser Me

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Mike says:

    Admittedly I view most race ambassadors with skepticism/disinterest because very few would promote the race if not for the free race entry, and most simply repost race photos and/or the race logo along with a discount code w/o trying to convince me why theirs is THE race I should run. That said, I’d be much more receptive to their message if they followed your lead—you’ve compiled a thoughtful and compelling list of reasons to run, and the race organizers have to be extremely happy with your obvious passion for their race. From the Vanna White-like picture in front of the porta-potties to the group shot of happy finishers to the final “glamorous runner” shot that looks like no race photo I’ve ever taken, you do make the race look and sound like a can’t-miss for Bay Area runners. And if a non-ambassador like me can add a reason #16, the race is on Super Bowl Sunday, so runners will be able to justify all that pigging out they’ll do later in the day. Tough to see a downside!

  2. Cathryn says:

    Thanks for your lovely comment and very sweet compliments about my spectacular photos 🙂 I genuinely do like this race – I’ve paid for it twice and was totally planning to pay for the 5k in 2017 even before I became an ambassador so I have no qualms about joining the scheme. (I may still need to pay for it if I don’t get enough sign-ups and I will do so!).
    Good point about Super Bowl Sunday – you can tell I’m not American because I hadn’t even thought about Super Bowl Sunday!
    You should do this race, it’s time you raced up here so we could finally say hi…and you could come to my birthday brunch!

  3. bt says:

    I agree, Cat. It’s a great race. For those of you deciding whether or not to use Cat’s code, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thanks for endorsing this message xx

  4. Jen says:

    I know I said I didn’t want to commit to any 2017 races yet, but *maybe* I’ll sign up for the 5K? If I do, I’ll certainly use your code! 🙂

    1. Cathryn says:

      Do the 5k!! It’s PR time!

      1. Jen says:

        But 2016 is the year of PRs… not sure what 2017 will be yet. 😉

      2. Cathryn says:

        The year of trailz!

  5. Judi Edwards says:

    Just signed up for myself and my hubby. Coming from hilly Atlanta, the course looks great! Love destination races! I used to live in San Fran many, many years ago and now my son lives and works in Napa. My birthday is the day before the race so this is my birthday treat!

    1. Cathryn says:

      How lovely, I’m so glad you’ve signed up – hope you got the discount as well. I’ve got good friends in Atlanta, it’s a great place. And yay for birthdays that weekend!

  6. Norm Ngim says:

    Well, thank you! Your blog site came up when I did a search for a discount code for the Kaiser race. I’ve run the Kaiser half a few times. My times are just over 2 hours. I’m a Bay Area native and visited the UK many years ago.

    1. Cathryn says:

      I’m so glad you were able to use the code – thanks for leaving me a note, I really appreciate that. Good luck at Kaiser, it’s a great race.

  7. Brijhette says:

    Thanks so much for the code! Just registered and am looking forward to running the 5K.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thanks so much for your lovely note. Glad you could use the code – have loads of fun on the 5k, it’s like flying. Gutted I can’t be there.

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