The San Francisco marathon has substantial elevation changes (over 800 feet total).

How does this effect the typical times it takes runner to complete this course as compared to perfectly flat courses?

Say my time on a flat course is 3:30. What should I expect for the SF marathon? What if my time was 4:00 on a flat course?

  • 1
    I am not sure if there is a perfect answer to this, but one approach would be to compare the best finishing time, the average finishing time and the maximum allowed time of the SF marathon to another marathon without major elevation changes.
    – Baarn
    Feb 19, 2013 at 9:20
  • 2
    This is something you can estimate for yourself. Look at the top 10 runners at SF over the past couple of years and then find a flat(flatter) course that one or more of them have run and see how their results compare. It's really subjective, though. Some people run better on hills and the training going in to a course with known elevation changes like that would be different than training for a flat course.
    – user5324
    Mar 4, 2013 at 12:48

1 Answer 1


A lazy and very basic comparison of the New York, Boston, Houston, London, Berlin and Cologne run times compared to the San Francisco run times, shows winners run a marathon in about 2:05 to 2:10 compare with the San Fran where the recent finishers looking at 2:20 to 2:30, or about a 10-15% increase in time.

Keep in mind these are professional runners who probably trained for the San Fran course. So if you are running a 3:30 marathon, you'll probably be looking at a close to but sub 4:00 time. If you are running in 4:00, then expect at least a 4:30.

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