It’s not just about the run. 

I’ve been really lucky to have a group of friends join Jules and me on a regular Saturday morning run up, down and around San Francisco.

Last year, Josh and I embarked on an Eleven Park Loop around SF and I realised that one of the advantages of this city’s density is how close together the great spots are. And being so hilly means that every few minutes you find a spectacular new vantage point.

San Francisco was built on seven hills. And that there’s forty other hills for runners to climb. Given that New York has the Bridge Runners and Portland has the Stump Runners — it was only logical that SF needed Hill Runners.

I’ve been a part of two running groups before — Brady’s running class at Chelsea Piers in New York and the Darwin Runner’s Club.

A regular running group, with a regular time, ends up changing the structure of your week. Thursday is different, so Friday can be the right kind of day to make Saturday’s run possible. Sunday is different because of what Saturday’s run was. Over and over again.

There is something irrationally fun about running groups, and it’s only partly to do with the running.

The first part is the feeling of accomplishment. You are doing something. And when you do that something with a group of people, many of whom you don’t know, you feel like you did something together.

The second part is the camaraderie. It’s really good to be outside, disconnected from technology, fully engaged in the task at hand and with other people. You can’t replicate that experience at a drinking club or a reading club or a dinner club. There’s a particular kind of active camaraderie that’s meaningful.

The third part is seeing your city. Up close, step by step. I appreciate San Francisco more because of Hill Runners. I’ve seen parts of it I never would have otherwise seen. And I get to experience the beauty with enough regularity to offset all the other abruptness this place throws at me.

From Coit Tower to the Vulcan St Stairs, Land’s End to Mt. Davidson, Embarcadero to Batteries to Bluffs, Twin Peaks to Bernal Heights and Mt. Sutro to the Seward St Slides, San Francisco is a city of connecting gems.

And that’s without even talking about the proximity to Mt Tamalpais, the Forests of Nisene Marks, Henry Cowell or Big Basin Redwoods.

Hill Runners makes me feel better about my city, my friends and myself. It’s almost always the best few hours of my week.

You can see some photos from some of our runs below. The distances sometimes look long and the runs hard, but every new person that’s joined has been shocked at what they’re able to do in the group setting. If you can run 10ks on flat, you’re ready for Hill Runners:

  • Run Two — Glen Canyon, Mt Davidson.
  • Run Three — Ocean Beach, Grandview Park, Mt. Sutro, Twin Peaks.
  • Run Four — Billy Goat Hill, Seward St Slides, Kite Hill, Tank Hill, Pemberton Place, Mount Olympus, Buena Vista Park, Corona Heights, Vulcan St, Saturn St and Sanchez St Stairs.
  • Run Five — Fallen Bridge Park, Mission Bay, AT&T Park, Embarcadero, Coit Tower, Fort Mason, Crissy Field, Lyon St Stairs, Alamo Square.
  • Run Seven — Fort Mason, Crissy Field, Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio, Batteries To Bluffs, Baker Beach, Land’s End, Sutro Baths, Ocean Beach.
  • Run Eight — Dipsea Trail, Steep Ravine Trail, Alpine Trail, Nora Trail, West Point Inn, Rock Spring Trail, Matt Davis Trail.