2017 San Francisco Road Race Series Guide

San Francisco Road Race Series Guide

Run Fact! While the days of the notorious Barbary Coast are long gone, San Francisco maintains it's unique culture. It's still "The City that Knows How", and that includes a great crop of road race series for 2017. You'll find big city marque events including opportunities to run over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, along with low key events with a local flavor, some of which include flat, fast courses where you can mark your progress.

Here's our RunGuides pick of the best S.F. Bay area road race series for 2017. Lace up your trainers, log some miles and we'll see you at the races!


Golden Gate Half Series

Each of these signature Bay Area half marathons offer an extraordinary running experience with stunning scenery, incredible camaraderie and awesome bling! It's easy to register for all three runs at once by selecting the "tour pass" option. The runs must be completed in sequential order to be eligible for series swag.

Golden Gate Half Series

Number of runs in the series: 3

What are the races?

Total distance if you run the entire series: 63.3 km (39.3 miles)

How many guilt-free donuts do you earn for running all the events?

Guilt-free donuts

Your training and racing efforts have earned you a half-dozen donuts, but if you get those bacon covered donuts at Twisted Donuts in the Avenues, you better make it four.

Do you get anything cool for completing all the events in the series?

you receive an exclusive medallion that prominently displays each race’s emblem on a beautiful golden bear backdrop.


San Francisco Originals Run Series

Consisting of four major marquee running events on the streets of San Francisco, each race tours the unique neighborhoods, pretty parks and waterfronts of the city. A celebratory atmosphere pervades there runs! Run them all for major bragging rights and a bit of unique Bay Area bling.

SF Originals Series

Number of runs in the series: 4

What are the races?

Total distance if you run all the events: 34 - 87.2 km (21.1 - 53.3 miles)

Once you've done the hard work and finished each event, how may reward donuts can you eat?


You can have 55 donuts! But only if you go to Trish's Mini Donuts at Pier 39. Conversely, you may have one donut, if you go to Bob's Donut Shop on Polk St. and order the donut the size of your head.

Do you get anything truly amazing for running the entire series?

Yes, a commerataive series medal. You must register with the same spelling of your name for each race. You can run any distance offerend at each event.


Run the Bay Challenge

Here's a series of three races held in the big Bay Area towns of San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose. The races take place in March, July and October, making it an easy series to fit into your training and racing schedule. Simply register and run for all three, and you are automatically entered in the series.


Number of runs in the series: 3

What are the races?

Total distance if you run all the events: 18 - 30 km (11.2 - 18.6 miles)

Let's say you've run all the events, how many delicious guilt-free donuts do you earn?

Donut time!

Go ahead and knock down one donunt per event for a total of three donuts. Throw in an extra donut for any personal best for the distance performances.

Do you get any awesome swag for completing the entire series?

Yes, you get a Run the Bay medal! Organizers keep track of your finishes so at the third race you just need to find our Run the Bay tent and pick up your medal.


DSE Summer Evening Race Series

The races are held Thursday evenings in the summer at San Francisco's Lake Merced. You can fairly depend on good running weather! The runs start in June and continue through August. You can show up and register on race day. The 4.5 mile course is flat and fast, running once clockwise around the lake.

DSE Summer Evening Race Series

Number of runs in the series: 12

What are the races?

Weekly Summer Evening Race Series

Total distance if you run all the events: 86.4 km (54 miles)

Should you run all the events, how many guilt-free donuts do you deeply deserve?

Certainly six donuts are in order. Remember, Twisted Donuts and Uncle Benny's Donut are both just a hop, skip and jump up the road from Lake Merced!

Let's talk swag, what do I get for running this great set of summer runs?

Runners acrue points towards awards, you must run at least six series events to be eligible for an award. The real benefit is getting to know the great DSE (Dolphin South End Runners) club members and crew!


LMJS Fourth Sunday Runs

These races are held the fourth Sunday of every month at Oakland's Lake Merritt, except for February, March and June. One loop around the lake is a 5k loop. You can choose to race over 5k, 10k or 15k. This low-key, convivial event attracts runners of all abilities, but don't be surprised if some local hotshots show up to test out their speed on the flat, fast course.

LMJS Fourth Sunday Runs

Number of runs in the series: 9

What are the races?

LMJS Fourth Sunday Runs 5k/10k/15k

Total distance if you run all the events: 45 - 135 km (28 - 83.9 miles)

If I run the entire series, how many donuts can I inhale with a clean conscience?


You might earn as few as 4 donuts, or as many as a dozen, depending on your race distances. The good news, Lake Merritt is virtually surrounded by donut shops, with Donut Savant on Broadway, and Colonial Donuts on Lakeshore.

Do you get any cool swag for running the entire series?

Participation ribbons are given to all runners and place ribbons are awarded to the top runners. Those who finish at least one 5k, one 10k and one 15k over the course of the year will receive the Total Time Certificate. The certificate is limited to LMJS club members.

Did we miss an important series? Let us know through the comments below! Or, if you’re looking for more races, check out our full calendar of San Francisco Runs.




Published on Nov 07, 2016

Steve Lafler writes stuff for Runguides. He prefers the chocolate old-fashioned donut at Colonial Donuts on Lakeshore Ave. in Oakland.