Where Bay to Breakers is San Francisco's fun road race, Sunday's 38th annual SF Marathon is our serious one, for hardcore distance runners who want to test themselves against inclines that "make the Boston Marathon's Heartbreak Hill seem like a walk in the park." It's also a day that surface transit riders and drivers are tested, with road closures that make getting around SF difficult if you're in anything but a singlet.

You can see the map of the course above (click on it to get a bigger version), and observe that runners will be cutting down major thoroughfares like 16th Street, Haight Street, and across the entire Richmond District at 26th or 27th Avenues. From their site:

The race starts and finishes on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building, traversing San Francisco. The Full Marathon runs through Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina, across the roadbed of the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Presidio and into Golden Gate Park. After a tour of Golden Gate Park, you will run down the famous Haight Street and through the Mission, Potrero and Mission Bay Districts. After a pass behind AT&T Park you are almost home - just run under the Bay Bridge and up to the Finish Line.

But, remember, just because you avoid those streets doesn't mean your travel will be smooth sailing — every other driver and transit operator in town will have the same idea you will, slowing and snarling travel everywhere.

25,000 runners are expected to compete in the various races associated with the event, with 60,000 spectators lining the course. And for the first time ever, runners in the full 26.2 mile race will include Olympic hopefuls, as the race was just declared a sanctioned USA Track & Field qualifier race for the 2016 Olympic Team Trials.

Yes, I said "various races": though it's called the SF Marathon, there's also a 52.4 mile Ultra Marathon that kicks off at midnight Saturday night/Sunday morning; the full marathon, which begins at 5:30 a.m.; the 1st Half Marathon that takes off at 5:32 a.m.; and a 5K that begins 7:45 a.m., all from Mission Street and The Embarcadero. Then, at 8:15 a.m. the 2nd Half Marathon will begin from Spreckel’s Lake. Everyone but the 1st halfers will end their runs at Folsom Street and The Embarcadero — the 1st half folks are San Francisco Marathon

According to the SFMTA:

From midnight, Saturday to 2:45 p.m., Sunday, the following street closures will be required:

  • Northbound Embarcadero between Broadway and King Street
  • King Street between northbound Embarcadero and 3rd Street
  • Steuart Street between Howard Street and the Southerly Terminus Eastbound Howard Street between The Embarcadero and Spear Street
  • Southbound Embarcadero between Broadway and Harrison Street

In addition, the MTA says, "various additional street closures will be required between 5 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. throughout the race route including in the Presidio and Golden Gate Park." So, yeah, this is not the weekend to plan a long Sunday drive around SF.