AFC 2023: Five Things You Need to Know to Prepare for One Epic Race 



Your next big race is almost here, and we want to ensure you’re fully prepared to have an AWESOME America’s Finest City Half Marathon & 5K. We have some exciting updates to share to help you make the most of this incredible experience. Let’s get you race-ready with these essential details:


1. Attend the AFC Expo/Packet Pickup Event:

AFC racers, mark your calendars, the Expo/Packet Pickup event is a must-attend occasion for all participants!  Join us on Saturday, August 19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Eventide Pavillion located at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina to pick up your race packet. While there, shop from the various vendors, and be sure to pick up a race souvenir from the official merchandise booth.  Bring your family and friends for a day of fun!  

As a special treat, each participant attending the Expo/Packet Pickup event will receive a full-size Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Chocolate bar with their race packet.


2. Transportation to the start line – buses for Half Marathon participants:

For all half marathon participants, please note that the only way to access the start line is via an event-provided bus. No participant drop-offs will be allowed at or near the start line at the Cabrillo National Monument. 

The half marathon buses will only be available in Balboa Park from 4:00 a.m. to 5:15 a.m. It’s crucial to plan your morning accordingly. You cannot run the half marathon if you miss the busses. Please have your bib in hand or visible on your clothing as you board – it’s your ticket on the bus! The bus pickup locations are indicated on the finish line area map here. 

There are two bus pickup locations on the east side of Balboa Park:

– The southwest corner of the President’s Way and Park Boulevard intersection.

– The northwest corner of the Zoo Place and Park Boulevard intersection (approximately a 3/4-mile walk from the finish line area).

5K participants, this bussing information is NOT FOR YOU, only for half marathon participants. The 5K starts and finishes in Balboa Park. 


3. Transportation to the start line for registered guests staying at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina:

If you’re staying at our host hotel, the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, buses are provided for you to and from the race. 

Half Marathoners: 4:30 – 5:30 a.m – Buses depart from the front of the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina to the half marathon start area at Cabrillo National Monument (runners only, no spectators) 

5K Racers: 5:10 a.m. – One bus departs from the front of the hotel to the 5K start/finish line. Sheraton guests that are both runners and spectators may use this bus. You can also drive yourself to and from Balboa Park. 

Finish Line Return Buses 8:30 – 10:45 a.m. – Buses will depart from the northwest corner of Park Blvd & Presidents Way, in Balboa Park, back to the Sheraton (runners and spectators allowed). The shuttle pickup location can be seen on the finish line area map here. 

The Sheraton buses are for guests of the hotel only. Proof of reservation will be required to board the busses. 


4. Parking in Balboa Park – All Racers and Spectators

Both the half marathon bus pickup location and the 5K start location are in Balboa Park, near the intersection of Park Boulevard & President’s Way. See the Finish Line Area map here.

Public parking is available throughout Balboa Park and the surrounding area. Allow yourself extra time on race morning for parking. 

The largest parking lots are off Park Blvd. at the intersections of Park Boulevard & Zoo Place and Park Boulevard & Presidents Way. Both lots are near a bus loading location for the half marathon start line. All half-marathon participants must take the bus to the start line.


5. Race Day Prep!

Don’t get caught unprepared for race day weather! The historical average on race day is 68°F with 70-80% humidity. Regularly check for any forecast changes as the race approaches and pack accordingly.

Don’t do anything new on race day! The excitement of race day can make you want to change your habits and routines, but don’t do it! Avoid new foods, clothing, shoes, and pacing changes on race day. Stick with what your body knows to have the best race possible.


We hope this updated information helps you prepare for a fantastic race day at America’s Finest City Half Marathon & 5K. Make sure to double-check your transportation and parking plans and attend the Expo/Packet Pickup event for some exciting goodies! Good luck, and we can’t wait to see you at the starting line, ready to conquer the course and achieve your personal best!

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