One of my favourite podcasts is the very new Ali on the Run show. I enjoy the longer Thursday episodes (last week’s interview with transgender athlete Chris Mosier was helpful, educational and really moving) but I also like the short twenty-minute Tuesday Top Tens that she does. This week’s episode was about Ali’s top ten races and it got me thinking about what mine were! So I came home, scrolled through my Races page (thank goodness for having a blog, eh?) and picked my top…twelve.
Without further ado…
12. London Marathon
My one and only marathon, back in 2004. I can’t even find my sole marathon photo from it and my race report was 7 years late. But bearing in mind it’ll probably be my only lifetime marathon, it was a cracker and I’m so glad I did it. From the downhill start to running over Tower Bridge all the way to running up the Mall it was amazing and I loved every minute! Report HERE.
11. Woodside Ramble 10k
Frankly any run in Huddart Park is a joy but I’ve run the winter 10k twice now and have enjoyed it so much. It’s tough but just as you decide you don’t want to climb any more, you’re done and you can scream downhill! There are redwoods, there’s an after-race buffet, there are generally friends to see…it’s a great winter race! Race reports HERE and HERE.
10. The San Francisco Marathon (half-marathon distance)
The SF Marathon does a genius thing in that it runs two concurrent half-marathons. You can run the first half, starting at 5am, crossing the bridge and wallowing in the views or you can run the second half, starting later in Golden Gate Park and standing a chance of PR-ing due to its flatter profile. Both races are great and fun and it’s lovely to be part of a marathon as a non-marathoner. Race reports HERE and HERE.
9. Redwood City Parade Run
I ran this in 2014 and loved every minute. It’s a small, local 5k on July 4th but it was notable for the depth of its stroller prizes. Top 3 male and female single stroller, top 3 male and female double stroller. Seriously, who is THAT generous? I ran it with my little boy when he was small and cute. We placed second, we were ridiculously proud of ourselves and we loved every second. It’s three laps of downtown so the views aren’t stellar but the atmosphere was awesome and then there was a very American parade! Race report HERE.
8. Kaiser Half Marathon and 5k
Kaiser’s a great race – I listed exactly why HERE. I’ve raced it three times, twice the half, once the 5k. It’s slickly put on, the course is great, support is great, medals are great and so many local friends run it you’re bound to bump into someone. Can’t fault it. Race reports HERE, HERE and HERE (5k).
7. Red Rock Canyon Half Marathon
I ran this with my friend Nic in 2015. We had no time goals, just joy goals, and we smashed them. It was like a trail race on road. Spectacular scenery, a great course and BBQ at the end PLUS the obligatory trip to Vegas. I recommend running it with someone who smuggles champagne into her race pack for proper post-race rehydrating. Race report HERE.
6. Crissy Field parkrun
I’m such a fan of parkrun and I’m really excited to run squillions of them in the UK when we move back. I’ve only run this one a few times as it’s a pain getting to the city on a Saturday morning at 9am but each time I’ve run it, I’ve loved the atmosphere, the community, the visiting British people, the flat course, the coffee and doughnuts afterwards. It was my first sub-25 5k, the views are amazing. It’s on every single Saturday AND IT’S FREE!!! Race report HERE.
5. Ayala Cove 10 miler
I LOVED this race on Angel Island. I loved the ferry trip over in the morning and the concept of running on an island. I felt awesome throughout this whole race – really strong. I still look back on it as one of the times I felt most fit and most strong. I loved the climbs, the views and I loved the lethal stairs we had to descend on both laps. Usually I’m super-cautious but the endorphins were strong and in my head I was Emelie Forsberg. I placed in my age-group and it was one of the best mornings ever. Race report HERE.
4. Apple Hill Blossom 10k
I don’t think this race is run any more but it was wonderful. Up in Apple Hill, in the foothills, it was a two-lap course through apple orchards. I ran it with the Dude in the stroller and it was just so much fun. Even though I had to stop and catch my breath on both laps as it was TOUGH, I just felt so strong and so flipping badass the whole time! The other notable moment was the Husband’s surprising AG win with his very unremarkable time…and then us discovering a few hours later that they’d read the results wrongly and he was pretty much last in his AG. Fantastic family memories here. Race report HERE.
3. Ragnar Napa Valley
Such mixed views on this race but I loved it. I was in Van 1 and had a great time – Van 2 had much harsher feedback for the race organisers. But it was a fantastic weekend of running with wonderful people in a tiny van! I just remember laughing the whole time. My legs were fantastic (my runs, not my actual limbs), I got to chase a bride through the foggy Santa Rosa night which was fantastically creepy and it finished with an exhausted dance party in Calistoga. Poor organization, a rubbish course but AMAZING PEOPLE, lots of food and a bit of sleep. I still feel the buzz. Race report HERE.
2. Oakland Marathon Relay.
Oakland does a great running festival. I’ve run the half, the 5k and the marathon relay and the relay was seriously one of the best races I ever did. I ran in a team with Jen, Jess and Kate – and running with those girls would make any race one of my best ever. We had the best team shirts, we team-built in a cat cafe and I experienced running in a team for the first time ever. The motivation of pushing hard to do your best for your friends…that’s pretty special. I loved this whole experience. Race report HERE.
- Healdsburg Half Marathon 2012
Once in a lifetime, you get The Magical Race Day and this was it for me. I’d trained so hard to go sub-two for the first time and I thought I could do it. I got to meet Jen and Angela for the first time ever. The course was beautiful. My playlist was amazing. My Husband and my adorable small child cycled round the course cheering for me at every single mile marker. The running felt effortless the whole time. I just remember being so incredibly happy throughout. I’ll never forget running down that final hill past the cheerleaders (CHEERLEADERS!) and seeing 1.55 on the clock as I finished. Beyond my wildest dreams. I went back for more of that magic last year and alas the magic was gone but I will always cherish this day as my Best Day of Racing Ever In My Entire Life. If I never get the magic again, this will be enough. Read it all HERE.
Seriously…just proof-reading this post made me genuinely start crying. So many wonderful memories of so many great races and so many gorgeous people. How flipping lucky I feel to have lived here so long and to have run in these places and with these friends.
Okay. Stop me crying. Distract me. Tell me YOUR top 10. Or top 3 if you’re in a rush.