The Berkeley Half Marathon Race Review, a Spectator’s View

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I know I did-2 dinners and a Skype date with the family made for a successful day. But now that I have awaken from the food coma, it’s time to get back to business and review a race!

The Berkeley Half Marathon 2013

Sunday, November 24

8 AM


Last Sunday I had the privilege of cheering on runners at the Berkeley Half Marathon! My boyfriend, Rich, signed up for this race a couple of months ago. Instead of running, I decided this would be a good opportunity to experience a race as a spectator for the first time.

Packet and Bib Pick-up:


Packet pick-up was held at the Sports Basement on Bryant St. in San Francisco on Friday, November 22, and at the Pyramid Brewery and Alehouse in Berkeley, CA on Saturday, November 23. Rich and I drove to the brewery the evening before the race.


This was not a runner’s expo; it was a bare-bones packet pick-up with no vendors or free samples of Clif Bars. However, it was organized and efficient-Rich was able to get his bib and race shirt within a matter of minutes. The shirts were well designed:


I have to admit, I was a little jealous of everyone picking up their race materials. At the same time, since I was NOT running in the morning I was able to have a lil’ drinky at the brewery.


Royal Anne Cherry Stout..cheers!

But this isn’t about me, it’s about the race. So, after trying 2 beers (I also had the Weiss Cream-soo delicious) we headed home for some carb-loading and an early bedtime.


First time driving across the new Bay Bridge!

Race Day: Apparently, I sleep as well as a spectator as I do as an actual racer. I think I finally fell asleep around 3 am and was up by 6:15. Rich slept soundly for 6 hours though, so that’s more important! We drove to the starting line at Civic Center Park in Berkeley and arrived with plenty of time for Rich to stretch and line up.


And they’re off!

It was so fun cheering on runners as they exploded through the gate! Rich was in wave 3 and I was able to catch a picture just after he crossed the starting line.


I was determined to meet him along the course at some point, but it’s easier said than done! They did offer runner tracking, which I found out after the race. Next time, for sure.


I found a spot around what I believed to be around mile 2 of the race, and I stood with other spectators and cheered. The Berkeley race shirts were awesome, but it was hard to pick out individual runners in a sea of forest green. I did not see Rich, so I ran to the car hoping to find him down the course!


It was difficult to navigate in a city I am unfamiliar with, especially with all of the road closures for the race. Siri wanted to lead me right on to the race course, but I was able to eventually find parking at a water station around mile 8 using the course map.

I was a little anxious waiting, hoping I hadn’t missed him pass through the water station. The pacers were a great tool to gauge approximately when I would see Rich. Around 9:17 I was able to identify him in a wave of runners! I cheered as loud as I could to get him to notice me. It was exciting, but went by so quickly!

I hopped back in the car, hoping to meet him around mile 11. Siri failed me again and I ended up at Target. Tempting as it was to pick up some fashionable yet affordable home furnishings, I needed to get back to the race. Traffic was becoming increasingly worse as Berkeley woke up. I estimated he would complete the course just before 10 AM so I decided to head to the finish.

The race finished at Golden Gate Fields, and I didn’t scope out where to park beforehand. It turns out there WAS a sizable parking lot, but I didn’t know this. I was told by a police officer that was directing traffic away from the race to park in the neighborhood, so that’s what I did. I ended up parking about a mile away from the finish. At this point, I knew he would be getting close to the end soon and I was determined to see him cross the finish line! So, I put on his back pack (I was his bag check) and started to run. Thankfully, I wore a pair of Asics.

To my surprise (and to many runners) the flat Berkeley course had one uphill at mile 13!


See, right at the end! ———————>

It wasn’t too bad of a hill (although I was hot running in a sweater, scarf and backpack!), so I jogged along the sidelines all the way to the finish line.


It was crowded, and I’m not the tallest person so it was hard for me to see. I watched a lot of people cross the finish, but unfortunately I never saw him. I did finally find him in the beer garden..go figure!


The finisher!

He received 2 medals: One for completing the Berkeley Half Marathon and another for running both the Berkeley AND San Francisco half marathons! (same race organizers)


The finish area was an expo of sorts, which I thought was a nice touch. Runners were provided with a bagel and a few other nibbles at the finish, but I was able to graze various samples provided by vendors. There were group sessions of yoga and free massages available as well!


Since I didn’t see most of the course, I asked Rich to tell me what he thought about the race. He said overall it was a great experience:

Pros: View of the Bay and both bridges, quartet along the course playing Eye of the Tiger, finishing on a downhill slope

Cons: Uneven pavement (several people fell and paramedics were even needed), too many turn-arounds, running by the highway


Can I just say race spectating is not easy work. I BARELY made it from the start to finish in under two hours! But it was a lot of fun, and as a runner I know how great it feels to have support along the course. I’m so happy to have experienced this race from the sidelines.

Congratulations to all the Berkeley Half Marathon finishers, I hope you could hear me cheering for you!




4 thoughts on “The Berkeley Half Marathon Race Review, a Spectator’s View

  1. Way to go, I know how difficult it is to get to points and then to even spot who you’re looking for. My dad gave up trying to take photos and just starts recording movies hoping to catch us.

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