Running for health and exercise is virtuous, but sometimes you just want to pin on a bib number and race against hundreds of others. Here’s our weekly best bet for races of various lengths and surfaces.
Pony Express Marathon/Half/5K/Relay
When: 7 a.m. Sunday, May 1
Where: Capitol Mall, Sacramento
Cost: $150 (marathon), $70 (half), $235 (relay), $40 5K
Reason to run: Ever since the late, lamented Cowtown Marathon shrunk to a half, we’ve been waiting for a second road marathon to grace Sacramento. It is here. This race, mostly along the Sacramento River near Raley Field and Land Park, seems even flatter than the California International Marathon. Yes, it’s USATF-certified, for those trying for a Boston Qualifier.
American River Parkway Half Marathon/5K
When: 7:45 a.m. (half), 8 a.m. (5K) Saturday, April 30
Where: William Pond Park, 5700 Arden Way, Sacramento
Cost: $75 (Half); $40 (5K)
Reason to run: There’s a slightly new course for this year’s popular run along the American River Parkway. This time, runners will start heading up river with what’s described as “keyhole loop” at the end. Still, it’ll be a fast course, with only a few undulations.
San Francisco Marathon
When: 5:30 a.m. July 31
Where: Embarcadero, San Francisco
Reason to run: Think of all the sights you’ll see – the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf – while you struggle to finish, er, blaze through a course that has very few hills and should see about 25,000 runners.