For the 40th time Sunday, the city by the bay transformed into a competitive racing course as thousands of runners duked it out at the San Francisco Marathon.
The event has swelled from 1,000 local participants to roughly 27,500 since the first race 40 years ago. Such an increase of attendees led to a record sellout this year, pulling in the largest group of runners ever seen.
Under the cover of near darkness, racers burst out of the starting gate at 5:30 a.m. to the sound of a cable car bell ringing, according to race officials. Those who braved the brisk air and the daunting task of conquering 26.2 miles on foot were given an extra motivational boost after learning that AirFrance would award the male and female winners of the full marathon with two round-trip plane tickets to Paris.
Racers proceeded to bound along the Embarcadero, cross a fog-filled Golden Gate Bride, navigate through Golden Gate Park and scamper across city streets before finishing the race back near the Bay Bridge.
Roughly two and a half hours after kicking off the journey, Jorge Maravilla, 39, of Mill Valley broke the tape first for the men at 2:28.23 and took home the full marathon crown, according to race officials. Maravilla, who emigrated from El Salvador, trains in Marin County and is the general manager at the San Francisco Running Company.
On the female side, Devin McMahon, 25, of Stanford crossed the finish line at 2:52.49 to capture victory. McMahon, who told marathon officials that she was surprised to come in first place, is a Ph.D student at Stanford University.
While many took part in the full 26.2-mile-long race, other options for participants included a half marathon and 5K race. For runners seeking an added challenge, the event also offered an ultra-marathon, which traversed 52.4 miles of city streets
After completing their run, marathon participants were greeted by a well-earned beer garden and festival at the finish line.
For those not participating, the event did impact traffic in the area. All northbound lanes of the Golden Gate Bridge were closed from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. The closure came in the wake of recent attacks in which terrorists used vehicles overseas to mow down pedestrians.