When former 49ers running back Roger Craig retired from football after a career that included three Super Bowl championships, he kept in mind something fellow NFL star Walter Payton told him.
“He gave me some valuable advice,” Craig said. “He said never lose your endurance. So I live by that motto every day. Don’t lose my endurance.”
For the past 10 years, Craig has taken that motto seriously, and will see the fruits of his efforts play out on the streets of San Francisco at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Sunday.
The event is part of an international series — with 23 events in North America and five in Europe — that started in San Diego 15 years ago.
Craig had a hand in bringing it to the Bay Area. He first petitioned then-mayor Gavin Newsom, but Craig said The City wasn’t ready for it at that time, so he took it to San Jose, where they have run a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon for the past nine years.
This will be the second event to take place in San Francisco, though the route will have a few key differences this year. Last time, the city restricted use of the Golden Gate Bridge to just the pedestrian path, which limited the number of runners to 5,500.
This year, they will have access to three lanes of the road, and race director Kevin LaRue said they expect about 11,000 participants. LaRue said including The City’s most famous landmark was an important part of that.
“Being that the series has such a wide reach across the U.S. and internationally as well,” he said, “we felt like the Golden Gate Bridge is a pretty huge piece, especially for people coming from out of town.”
As to the rock ‘n’ roll aspect of the event, bands will be dispersed along the courses at one-mile intervals to help keep the atmosphere lively and, LaRue hopes, draw a new audience to the sport.
The event begins today with a fitness expo at the Moscone Center that runs through tomorrow. The event kicks off at the northwest corner of Golden Gate Park at 6:30 a.m. and finishes at Civic Center Plaza.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon
WHEN: Sunday, 6:30 a.m.
START: Great Highway and Fulton Street
FINISH: Civic Center Plaza