Best City Run

Hint: It Ain't Along Marina Boulevard

If any city can boast it's the ideal runner's burg, San Francisco can. Yet astonishingly, thousands of locals squander the city's possibilities by plodding along Marina Boulevard, the awful stretch of flat, noisy, wind-blown pavement that borders Marina Green. Screw that. Start at the Golden Gate Park Panhandle. Stretch, if you're that sort of person. Then head up Cole Street to Parnassus Avenue and turn right. Continue two blocks to Willard, turn left, go a quarter block and to your right you'll find a stairway that climbs up to Edgewood Avenue, an exclusive brick-covered street bordering the University of California property. Run up the two blocks of Edgewood to the end of the street, where you'll find a narrow trail that heads up the side of Mount Sutro through eucalyptus and ivy groves. Run along the trail -- it's steep and narrow, so be careful -- until it lets you out onto Medical Center Way, the narrow, winding, unmarked road that goes behind UCSF. Turn left onto Johnstone Drive. Run a block and turn right on Clarendon Avenue. Go a half block, then left on Dellbrook Avenue, run 20 more yards, and turn right on La Avanzada Street. Continue 100 yards on Avanzada until you find a dirt path on your right. This will take you to Palo Alto Avenue, a cul-de-sac. Go a half block east and turn right on Marview Way. Just as you're getting to Farview Court, you'll see a dirt path to your left, which traverses the southern edge of the city reservoir. Take the trail and run through California fescue until you reach Twin Peaks Boulevard, about 150 yards. Run 100 more yards to the first of the Twin Peaks. Then run to the top. Turn around once: You'll see the entire Bay Area, plus the ocean. Run down the other side of the dirt peak, and continue along Twin Peaks Boulevard, taking dirt-trail shortcuts along the way until you reach Portola Drive. Cross the four-lane street. Go west two blocks to Teresita Boulevard and turn left. Go two blocks and turn right on Isola Way. Then run a half block and turn right on Rockdale Drive. Go a block and go left on La Bica Way. Continue 50 yards straight uphill until you reach the end of the street, where you'll find a trailhead entering Mount Davidson Park. This is what you've been looking for all along. Run uphill on a beautiful, shaded labyrinth of trails for a mile or so until you reach Mount Davidson Cross, a four-story cement structure commemorating Armenians killed in 1915 by Ottoman Turks. Congratulate yourself: You're half done. Now, retrace your steps to the Panhandle. You've just completed a bracing 80-minute run. Better still, you've proved you're no Marina Green weenie.

 
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