The 6th annual Oakland Running Festival was this past weekend and I wanted to try something different. I’ve finished the Oakland full marathon 4 times and the half marathon once (dressed as the Incredible Hulk). This year I decided to take on the “Run The Town” Challenge: run the 5K and the half on the same day.

The logistics were fairly easy as the 5K started at 7:45 and the half started at 9:15. With both courses being loops, there was no need for transportation between the two races.


The start of the full marathon. On the far right is Paddy who is an NPSF co-leader and dropped a 2:44 on his first marathon.

The start of the full marathon. On the far right is Paddy (an NPSF co-leader) who dropped a 2:44 on Oakland for his first marathon.


The 5K

In still trying to take care of my hamstring, the plan was simple: keep it comfortable. In true Oakland spirit, I rocked my vintage Dave Stewart jersey from an A’s giveaway game. I paired it with an A’s hat and two different colored Pro Compression socks, #twopairdontcare style. See it here.

I ran without music and enjoyed seeing all the kids run their hearts out. It was a crowded field and the 5K was by far the most popular event of the morning. There were fast runners, casual runners, and walkers. It was a great mix and the environment was very inviting.

5K: 25:13

The Half Marathon

In between races I performed a costume change, which simply means I put on a new shirt. The Dave Stewart jersey would have been too heavy to race 13.1 miles in and the sun was expected to come out and play later in the morning.

Rocking my November Project grassroots gear, still in the A’s hat, and two different colored socks (see it here), the half started with the same goal: keep it comfortable. I ran this race without music as well. I kept conversation with a friend for the first mile, then he sped off with pace aspirations in prep for Boston. The next few miles went by pretty quickly and my legs felt pretty good.

We merged with the full marathon runners around mile 4 and it was weird because I usually remember this point as a full marathon runner (it’s mile 17 for them). The course followed the same route as previous years and I knew exactly what to expect the rest of the way. I caught up with a fellow November Project-er taking on the full. We chatted for a bit and we knew the NP cheer station was coming up in a few miles, we were both anxious to feed off their energy and get to that point.


The NPSF cheer squad who threw it down at mile 10 and 23. Photo from NPSF.

The NPSF cheer squad who threw it down at mile 10 and 23. Photo from NPSF.


After the huge energy pick-me-up through the NP station, I glanced at my watch to see that I was well on pace to finish in under 2-hours. For the majority of the race I hadn’t paid much attention to my pace and simply ran by feel. The last 2-3 miles are near Lake Merritt and this has always been a tough part of the course for me. I just kept focused on continuing to run and refusing to take the much desired walk break. I didn’t have a time goal going in, but knowing that sub-2 was doable if I kept running, motivated me.

Half Marathon: 1:55:21

Run The Town Challenge: 2:20:34, 18/145 overall


The Oakland Experience

Overall, it was a great race experience. The city comes out in great form to support the race and it’s one of the best in the Bay Area. I know for a fact that I would not have run 16 miles (or even 13)  if I was not signed up for this race. I most likely would have slept in or gone for a much shorter run. Am I the only one that does this? Use races as training runs?

I really enjoyed taking on the two races and it was an entirely different experience than only running the full or the half. I would definitely be open to taking on the challenge again. The Oakland Running Festival always puts on a well-organized event and I’m looking forward to being a part of it again for the 7th year in a row.




If you are thinking about running the Oakland Running Festival, be sure to sign up for their email list (bottom of the page) as early registration for 2016 is always the best price point. You can also check in with me throughout the year as I usually have a discount code as the event gets closer.

Do you ever sign up for races as a way to get in a long run?