let me preface this by saying i was incredibly disappointed by this pre-race and post-race experience. i did this race in 2013 and will be comparing it to how wonderful that experience was.
june 15: i entered the lottery for this race. at sign up, we were asked to provide an address where the race packet would be sent.
july 8: i “won the lottery”, aka was charged $220 ($200 for the race, $20 for the shuttle back to union square)
july 13: nike sent out an email with a $20 gift card to “gear up for training” which expired 8/22.
october 5: nike sent out an “all access pass” email. in small writing, it said “please note, your race kit will no longer be shipped. all runners must pick-up their bib and race tank at one of our packet pick-up locations.” it was also sent from the email that sends out their promotional emails, email@example.com.
please note, during all of this, nothing was posted on their official run nike women series facebook or instagram page. only when people commented asking about the packet did they reply in a comment. this is how i figured it out.
thursday october 8, saturday-monday, october 10-12: early packet pick up. a week before the race, runners in the san francisco area could pick up their race packets. at this time, runners could also get their shirt personalized for free, and get a free earring as part of the earring scavenger hunt (more on this later).
i arrive in san francisco. after dropping off my bags at the wrong hotel, i went to the nike shakeout run. it was hosted by nike run club (which they made quite obvious). it was supposed to start at 9:30 am, but the 2 mile run didn’t start until about 9:45-9:50 (depending what group you were in). we had to listen to the main “coach” and meet different nike run club coaches from across the country. i really just wanted to get my run in. we all had to do a cheer about “n-r-c” and then finally we got to do our short run. the run hit many many stoplights and was very packed, so it ended up taking about 30 minutes.
when we finally got back to where we started, we were handed a verizon portable phone charger (no where on it does it say nike). there was a huge line at the whole foods booth for a juice (see below).
i waited a couple minutes for an almond bar and then promptly left. luckily on my walk over to the hotel for packet pick up, i was able to grab a juice from someone bringing more.
packet pick up
packet pick up was the only place i didn’t hit a line. it was in the westin hotel, which was well staffed and clearly marked with signs indicating where to go. the girl who helped me was a bit confused (she said you had to pre-order personalized shirts) but i got my packet, bought two shuttles passes for my parents ($20 each) and was on my way. in the packet was: my tank top (i didn’t realize a t-shirt was an option), my bib, safety pins, and a nike catalog. (i heard a rumor that they were trying to save paper, in which case i don’t understand the catalog being in there…)
earring scavenger hunt
instead of an expo (or expotique as they used to have), there was an earring scavenger hunt. there were 7 earring pick up locations (the 8th earring was given to those who picked up their packet oct 8th, 10th, 11th or 12th) around san francisco. i mistakenly assumed that the 8th earring would be in our race packets, so i figured i’d wait in line for 1 earring and then i’d have a set. i first went to union square, where the line was huge. then i went to macy’s, right next to union square, and the line was even longer (i am guessing 45-90 min wait?) i then decided to try a little further location and went to nordstrom a few blocks away. i waited in line for 30 min, was then given a sales pitch by a nike employee for a $280 vest, and then finally got my earring. i walked back to union square, to find they were already out of those earrings (it was 11:25 am). i wish i had skipped the shakeout run and gotten a second earring. at this point, i was sick of waiting in lines (and figured everywhere was sold out), so i gave up. i now own one sad earring.
please note: the earrings were only for registered runners. you had to scan a barcode on your phone before listening to the sales pitch. if nike knew how many registered runners there were, shouldn’t they have had enough earrings?
october 18: race day
i woke up, got ready (i didn’t wear the nike tank top they suggested everyone wear), and headed down to my corral. i was in corral #2, which started promptly 10 min after #1. after we crossed the start line, we had to walk because the course was so narrow. other than that, the course itself was fine. the cheering sections/fans were a bit light (lighter than the twin cities marathon with half as many people). the weirdest part of the course was when the race was turning left, then all of a sudden a nike volunteer told us to start going straight. they were apparently moving the course around for traffic, but isn’t that the point of street closures and why we pay for the race? this happened to me a few times.
fun side note: at mile 7, i heard the iphone “facetime incoming call” noise. i lifted up my water bottle and heard it coming from my phone. i took out my phone and saw my dad facetiming me. they were supposed to be on their way to meet me, so i thought maybe they were telling me their location. when i answered the call, it was just my mom’s concerned face. she apparently thought i called them, and was worried i was hurt and couldn’t run. it took a couple moments to clarify that i was fine and that they had called me (twice apparently). oy.
there were only a few water stops, each accompanied by a lot of porta poties. this was the only part of the race i was impressed with. we ran up and down the hills.
the last couple miles were flat. i hit mile 13 and couldn’t see the finish line. once i hit the finish line, i got a water bottle, bag of food, and my tiffany necklace. the finish line was a mess. the announcer was encouraging everyone to “post on social media” with “all the hashtags”. the lines for pictures with the firefighters were 100 people long. i saw a boutique but wasn’t in a mood to give nike (any more of) my money. i met up with my parents (thankfully we all had cell phones) and headed for the shuttles i had paid a combined $60 for. we had to walk for 15 minutes before we got to the shuttle. and then right as we were getting on, a family with no shuttle pass hopped on after us.
i am so thankful i didn’t convince any of my friends to sign up for this race. for $260, i got:
– a race with streets (mostly) closed
– water during the race
– a free honey stinger gu
– a tiffany necklace (that according to many facebook posts, will tarnish very quickly)
– a tank top
– a reusable whole foods water bottle
– a reusable whole foods bag with a tear in it, with some small samples in it
– race pictures (there were 2 photographer locations, and photographers at the finish line)
– a shuttle back to union square with my parents
– a single earring
i guess i am spoiled by so many good races. this does not even compare to how i felt/how i was treated at the twin cities marathon.
nike knew how many people would be running this race, so the lack of crowd control/number of lines baffles me.
if you are reading this, please warn your friends about the nike races. i don’t want anyone else to be as frustrated by a poorly run race (no pun intended) as i was.