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September 23, 2011

The Nike Women's Marathon Blows Through Union Square

Rarely does an event combine girl power, athletic prowess, fashion and a great cause, so we thought we’d dedicate this week’s blog to the Nike Women’s Marathon coming up next month on October 16th. Nike’s flagship Union Square store is a great place to stop to get in the spirit with some top notch gear or to get more info on the marathon. Unfortunately, it’s too late to sign up for this year’s race, so you’ll have to settle for cheering the mostly female runners on as they swiftly pass through Union Square and enjoying the race festivities.

This year marks the eighth annual marathon for Nike, and they’re set to raise approximately 20 million dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). The LLS has the ambitious and extremely worthy goal of curing Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improving the quality of life of patients and their families. It is the largest voluntary organization dedicated to blood cancer. Through research, clinical trials and free information and support services, they help save lives and make life a little bit easier for those who suffer from these diseases. More than 1 million North Americans are currently battling blood cancers, and while survival rates have improved drastically since the LLS was founded in 1949, much work remains to be done. The LLS is a non-commercial organization that is dedicated to researching and achieving a high cure rate for most blood cancers in the future, and they depend upon partnerships with organizations like Nike as well as donations from individuals to keep working toward it. In fact, they’ve created a Team in Training program, just for athletes who want to take part in major marathons and other sports events like the Nike Women’s Marathon to raise money for LLS. Since it was founded in 1988, the team has grown to provide training, mentoring and support for athletes who have raised over 1 billion dollars for the cause. You can find out more about them here.

Aside from sponsoring a great cause, the Nike Women’s Marathon is unique in that it is all planned with women in mind. While men are allowed to enter, the event caters to women by offering everything from a three-day interactive Expotique right here in Union Square to an official finisher necklace by Tiffany & Co. and a post-race celebration with music, food and freebies all centered around celebrating women. They’re also currently holding a contest amongst participants to get the “ultimate style hookup” from Nike. This means that eight ladies will be chosen for their running style and personalities to be treated to a VIP marathon weekend complete with entourage, special events and of course Nike products. You can vote for finalists on their Facebook page. Of special interest to locals might be the Expotique, which is open to the public and includes fitness and beauty booths, treadmills and giveaways and will be in a tent on Union Square from October 13th through October 15th. This year, they’re adding a special fashion show on the Square on October 14th to showcase the latest in running and fitness gear.

You can watch the ladies (and a few gents) take off from Union Square starting at 7:00 am on the 16th. The course proceeds around the Embarcadero, through Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Mason, Marina Blvd, the Presidio and Sea Cliff, then out to the Great Highway for a beautiful ocean view at the finish line. If you’re already raring to go for next year, you can get a start by joining the San Francisco Nike runners club every Wednesday night at 6:00 pm, and if you’re more of a spectator get ready to cheer on 20,000 ladies as they take off for a great cause.