Ever since I joined The CoSMo Company and found out I would be visiting San Francisco a few times each year I put a run over the Golden Gate Bridge on my ‘Must Do’ list. It’s an iconic structure and synonymous with the City by the Bay, but it is also a little out of the city center and so not the shortest run to fit into a tight schedule. However, thanks to jet lag and slightly more convenient hotel choice this time around, I planned out a half marathon length route that I thought I could fit into two hours.
There was only one potential hitch to the plan: the bridge doesn’t open until 5am so I would need to get my timing right else I would be either waiting in the cold morning air for the bridge to open or getting back too late to start my day.
Lucky for me, I am a pretty good judge of pace now…
Various Strava routes suggested cutting through the city streets and zig-zagging a route towards the Presidio and then onto the bridge. While this might have been quicker or more popular with local runners – the two metrics that the Strava route tool seems to use to determine the best route – I didn’t want to get lost or turned around too much on the way down to the bridge and unnecessarily waste time trying to figure out where I was going. Hence, I headed straight down Hyde to Fishermans Wharf and turned left along the water.
I pushed over the hill at Fort Mason and – despite being able to see the bridge – managed to turn myself around a little and run through the Marina District a little . It didn’t take too long, though, before I was able to get back on track and run along Mason Street and the marina towards the bridge that was looming larger and larger in my headlamp-lit line of sight. There weren’t a lot of runners out but I did pass a couple who were pounding out some early morning miles.
As I approached the bridge I knew I would have to head uphill and I managed to do so without getting lost. The trail up to the bridge was a little narrow and uneven but I managed to keep my feet and eventually pushed up to the entry to the bridge…and with only three minutes to wait. How’s that for pacing, right?
I snapped a picture while I waited for the bridge to open and texted Cécile to let her know where I was and then, as the gate slid open, I stepped onto the pathway and started making my way across the Golden Gate Bridge. The air was cool, the view of the Bay Bridge and the city were wonderful, and the engineering project that is the bridge is extraordinary – truly a great place to run.
A couple of cyclists heading into the city crossed the bridge and there was a large man in a small golf-cart style vehicle emblazoned with the words ‘Bridge Patrol’ who passed me a couple of times and gave me a friendly wave. I got to the end of the bridge, paused for a few seconds, and then headed back across to finish off the run. I crossed paths with another runner who must have been about 10 minutes behind me and gave her a wave, but otherwise I was alone running on the bridge and that was fine with me.
Heading back to the hotel, I kept things simple, watched my feet on the descent from the bridge on that washed-out trail, and headed for home at a nice sub-5:00 pace. At one point I crossed paths with a runner and he turned around almost immediately to follow me. When I realised this I slowed down a little so he could catch up and maybe talk, but he seemed content to sit back about 20 meters and so, after a couple of hundred meters, I got back up to speed again.
When I took the right turn up Hyde to head for home I ran the first couple of parts of the climb before hiking the section that, at 20% or so, is more like a rollercoaster rise than a runnable hill. Pushing over the top, I dropped down Hyde until I crossed over Bush and then clicked stop on the Garmin outside the hotel incredibly satisfied with the way I started the morning.