Although I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years, I still find that there are many gems that I didn’t know about and many areas that I need to explore. Thanks to this Runner’s World article on Hopper’s Hands, I discovered a little running gem in Crissy Field.
Crissy Field is a gorgeous recreational area right by the Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s an incredible place to run because you have a beach and the view of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge to one side and a huge expanse of green lawn on the other side that later turns to hills and trails. I was lucky enough to be in SF for the last few days of Mark di Suvero’s installation in Crissy Field. Huge steel sculptures dotted Crissy Field. Art and incredible views! How much better can running get in SF!?!?!!!
I took the bus to Fort Mason and started my run to Crissy Field. Aside from crossing a few quiet streets at the beginning, there was nothing but uninterrupted running/biking route all the way. I took my time, unworried about making a particular pace. I wanted to allow myself the space and time to really enjoy Crissy Field. I ran on the run/bike path, but deviated away to run up to the sculptures to take a closer look and some photos .After running through the area with the sculptures, I continued onto Marine Drive. Now the large field turned to hills and trails. The hills were covered in an explosion of wildflowers. I was really tempted to run up because it was so pretty, but I had to get to Hopper’s Hands first.
Hopper’s Hands is a plaque found all the way at the tip of Fort Point. Ken Hopper, one of the many ironworkers for the Golden Gate Bridge, noticed that runners would slapped their hands on the chain-link fence before turning around and running back. He wanted runners have something friendlier to touch, so he asked a pair of hands to be painted, which later became a plaque. Originally the hands weren’t labeled, but his friends convinced Hopper that his name should be on the plaque. The plaque is replaced whenever it becomes worn from the elements. When you dig deeper into the story of Ken Hopper, you discover an extraordinary person. He and many of his colleagues are suicide prevention volunteers for the Golden Gate Bridge. Whenever a person is observed that he/she is contemplating suicide by jumping off the bridge, a couple of the volunteers are called to talk to the person and to convince them to not jump. Over the years, they have saved countless lives. Hopper, personally, saved about 30 lives. You can read more about Ken Hopper here and here.
I slapped on hand on Hopper’s Hands. I thought about the hundreds and thousands of other runners who have done the same. Actually I saw a runner who was ahead of me place his hands briefly on Hopper’s Hands and turn around. I love this little bit of San Francisco tradition. I felt like I was reconnecting to this city that I love so much.
Then I turned around and ran up to the entrance of the Golden Gate Bridge. I didn’t have time to run across the bridge, but I enjoyed the view. Then I headed back.
While I was running out, I noticed that there was a race going on. I cheered on the few runners (the winners), but now that I was heading back, there were more runners. Colorful ribbons marked different routes for the race because they had different distances (5K to half marathon). Some of the ribbons marked a trail going up a hill, so I followed it for a little bit.
I ran to the top of the hill and cheered for some more runners. Then I decided to “bandit” a part of the race. By “bandit” I meant that I followed the ribbons and the runners to head back out of Crissy Field. I get lost easily, so I was very grateful to have a clearly marked route to follow back, although I doubt I would have gotten lost without them since I just had to retrace my steps. Still, every little bit to dummy-proof my ability to get lost (and I can get lost in a paper bag) is always appreciated.
A male runner with a sign saying “Just Married” on his back ran past me. I yelled, “Congratulations!”
“Thanks!” he yelled back.
“Are you running away already?” I joked.
“No! My bride is ahead of me and I need to catch her,” he answered.
I lost him for a bit, but later on I caught up to him and his wife. She had her own sign on her back.
I laughed and took a photo of the two of them.
His – Just Married
Hers – Just Married. This is my husband’s idea of a honeymoon.
Hahaha! I wished the two of them all the best wishes and good luck to their future life together.
I ran back to Fort Mason for a 7.5 mile run (1:23). It was great relaxing run. I definitely recommend this running route to anyone visiting SF. As wonderful as Golden Gate Park is, nothing beats a view of Golden Gate Bridge on your morning run.