The San Francisco Marathon – Tracking Runners, Crazy Parking Prices & Funny Video

by on July 29, 2012

in sports

2012 San Francisco Marathon - cool app, bad parking

The 2012 San Francisco marathon has come and gone today, Sunday, 7-29-12. And what a fun day it was. My wife was obligated to tackle the marathon despite suffering an excruciating issue with her IT band. But below is a recounting of our day, including an awesome smartphone app for tracking runners and a quickie bit on what should be illegal price jacking of parking fees during the event!

The Runner

As any runner whose prepared for a marathon, you know the routine of building up to long training runs and tapering off in time for the big 26.2 event. But a few months ago my wife started experiencing IT band issues and it was pretty bad. Her longest run while training for the marathon was 15 miles, and that did her knee in pretty bad. She went to the doc and was hitting up PT for the last few months. But her training instructions were to only run until it hurt and no farther. For her, that was under 2 miles. Not quite marathon training distance. But she did a lot of walking and long-range biking as part of her training. Those activities didn’t hurt her IT band.

SF 2012 Marathon race results

She went into this race with the plan to run the first 7 miles and walk the rest. This would get her in under the 6-hour limit and net her both finisher medals… the SF Marathon and the LA-SF combined medal. (This would be her 11th marathon in 6 years)

Knowing it was going to be a long day, I dropped her off and went back home to Menlo Park to keep an eye on our sick, old dog. But though I was going home, I was planning on keeping track of her with the runner tracking service provided for the marathon.

Runner Tracking App/Website

2012 SF Marathon Runner Tracking AppLast year I tracked my runner via a text messaging system. This year I tracked her via a smartphone app which had an identical clone on the web at (thesfmarathon.com/athlete-alerts/). Last year’s app miffed me so I wasn’t too excited about this but since I could not find any option to receive text message updates this year, this was my only option.

To be honest, I’m really glad I used this tool.

I dropped my wife off and got my butt home some 40 miles away. I knew her wave left around 6am, and the app/website annotated her start. But at the 5k mark, she never showed up and I started to freak out about her. What with her knee and all. (And she doesn’t carry a phone with her.) But it would seem that the system needed two times to start working and when she passed the 7.5 mile mark, she had a pretty good clip and I “knew” that she was going to start walking pretty soon.

Knowing I had a few hours, I started tooling around at home and a little over an hour later I thought I’d check her progress. I don’t know why I checked. She wasn’t due in at the 13.1 mile mark for quite some…. to quote my update on my personal Facebook page to our friends, “HOLY CRAP… AMY’s DOING IT!!! She passed the 13 mi mark in in 2h 21m. …. um, uh ho… I better get my ass back to the marathon!!!”

I scampered out the door and when I got to the event location, I had an interesting idea. The Tracking process had a map associated with it. And when a runner gets a few timing points under their belt, the map starts to show different points along the route and the estimated time that the runner will be at those different points on the route. THAT was an awesome feature that allowed me to meet up and support my runner at the 22-mile mark. That was fun to surprise her.

(I’d love to see this app show up at many more marathons!)

Then I realized I better get going and head on down to the finish line. This meant getting a quick parking space near the finish line.

Those Crazy Over-Priced Parking Lots

San Francisco Marathon Parking Lot Prices

I charged off to the finish-line region to nab a parking spot and set up to photograph my runner. I passed one parking lot that was charging $15. (Remember, this is near the end of the day.) I passed another that charged $20. But as I weaved through town my time and options were running out and I nabbed a parking spot in a lot a few blocks away from the finish line. And if I had more time or if we did this more often, I would NEVER had paid $40 for a spot. But I was ready with the bucks so I could go get my pics. And hence, I paid the $40.

But wow… that $40 price was taped over a different price from earlier in the day but I was in a pickle. And they know this rate is to park for a few minutes to maybe an hour while you pick up your runner.

But I have to say, was this legal??? To take complete advantage of people showing up to pick up runners at the end of the day and jacking up prices? I’d love to see the city step in and investigate if this is legal or not. It was crazy, but I was desperate.

And dang, if once I paid and started running towards the finish line that I didn’t see a lot charging $15. (My inner voice was rife with foul language on that one, but it was too late.)

A Funny Marathoner YouTube Video

Any way, in appreciation of all you have just accomplished runners, check out this video tribute to marathoners everywhere! It’s so awesomely funny.



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