America’s Finest City Half Marathon Review

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Running enthusiasts are invited to experience San Diego’s most recognizable sites during this fast and scenic point-to-point course. Starting near Cabrillo National Monument with its breathtaking vistas of Point Loma and Pacific Ocean, runners then pass Harbor Island, Embarcadero, Star of India before arriving in historic Balboa Park.

Start & Finish Line

The America’s Finest City Half Marathon begins near Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, famed for its breathtaking vistas of San Diego Bay and Pacific Ocean. The race winds its way from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery down the peninsula, passing Harbor Island’s Embarcadero and Star of India before passing through downtown San Diego and finishing inside Balboa Park near its Hall of Champions.

Nearly 5,000 elite and recreational runners from 46 states and 19 countries participated this year’s event. Boniface Kongin of Kenya won the men’s title in 1 hour 3 minutes 25 seconds with only two seconds ahead of Dominic Korir from Uganda as runner-up; Misaki Hayashida of Japan claimed her win with 1:11 minutes 02 seconds ahead of Kenyan Jane Kibii who placed second and three-time Olympian Scott Fauble who finished third overall (1 hour 04 minutes 12).

This course takes participants on a scenic yet fast point-to-point journey through San Diego’s heart. Participants start at Cabrillo National Monument before running down Cabrillo Memorial Drive toward the beach, passing Old Point Loma Lighthouse before entering Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery –one of the oldest military outposts in America–before ending up at bayside airport for stunning views of watercraft coming in and taking off.

Course Details

Midway through the course, runners pass through Bankers Hill – known for its cobblestone streets and stunning Victorian homes – which boasts cobblestone streets lined with cobblestones. At mile 10, runners take India Street through Mission Hills’ green spaces and high-end homes before entering Balboa Park where runners traverse its lush meadows before running along Pan American Road which boasts 15 museums including world renowned San Diego Zoo.

The America’s Finest City Half Marathon and 5K events take place in Balboa Park, with the finish line located at Park Boulevard and Presidents Way. Public parking spaces are plentiful throughout Balboa Park and its surroundings; runners should allow extra time for parking as this race is popular. In order to board shuttle buses to reach their start lines, runners need their bib number and timing tab which they can collect at Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina the day prior or authorize someone else with proof of identity to collect these items on their behalf.


The America’s Finest City Half Marathon offers runners an exhilarating and scenic point-to-point course that passes some of San Diego’s most picturesque sights. Beginning near Cabrillo National Monument and continuing past Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery and Point Loma neighborhoods before looping around North San Diego Bay through Harbor Island and Embarcadero before passing Star of India before ending up at Balboa Park.

The course is mostly flat and mostly downhill, though there may be occasional slight inclines along the route. Most elevation changes occur early in Point Lom as runners traverse streets; later there will be additional hills nearer the finish line; overall elevation rises less than 200 feet from its lowest point at the starting line to its highest point in Balboa Park.

Daniel Mesfun Teklebrhan earned the men’s title this year with a time of 01:02:37, narrowly beating Dominic Korir and Brendan Gregg for second and third respectively. Misaki Hayashida secured first place among women runners by finishing ahead of Shiori Yano by almost 8 minutes at 01:13:47. Click here to see the results for this year’s race, which features not only a half marathon but also 5K and wheelchair divisions.

Runners must be 13 years old or older to participate in the half marathon; minimum age requirement for 5K registration is 8. To qualify for a medal, runners must finish their respective courses within three hours to be included on the official results. Anyone failing to do so will be disqualified and removed from further consideration. runners must collect their bib number and timing tab at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina Expo one day prior to race day. If they cannot attend in person, someone else may pick them up with proper photo identification from them.

Pre-Race Festivities

San Diego (August 20, 2023) – The 25th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon and 5K showcased America’s Finest City with over 27,000 runners from 42 states, 42 countries, and territories participating. On-course music was provided by Saved By the 90s, Surf Birdz, Naruwan Taiko Japanese drumming group Naruwan Taiko Taiko; plus cheerleaders provided extra crowd support!

Runners were treated to an unforgettable point-to-point course featuring breathtaking views of San Diego bay, Pacific Ocean and Harbor Island. Starting from Cabrillo National Monument at Point Loma with its acclaimed views before following scenic San Diego Bay along Embarcadero to Harbor Island then through downtown San Diego until arriving at Balboa Park – runners truly had an experience that will remain with them for life!

As part of the Half Marathon Triple Crown Series with Carlsbad and La Jolla races, this race attracted top athletes from all across the country. Kibrom Elias of San Diego, California completed his men’s title race in 1 hour 5 minutes 7 seconds to take top honors; three-time Olympian Zoe Baker from Golden, Colorado took her women’s crown with an impressive time of 1:15 minutes 04 seconds.

Neil Finn Sports Management

Neil Finn Sports Management owns and manages the America’s Finest City Half Marathon & 5K event, while proceeds benefit Cabrillo National Monument Foundation, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and Spreckels Organ Society.

Participants can collect their bib number and timing tab at the AFC Expo located at Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina the day prior to the race. Runners who cannot attend can authorize another person to collect these items on their behalf; please bring a copy of your photo ID. The AFC expo is open from 10:00am-3:00pm on Sunday, August 19th.

America’s Finest City Half Marathon and 5K races begin in beautiful Balboa Park along Presidents Way and finish at Pan American Plaza; both courses run completely within the park itself. Participants can enjoy post-race festivities like live music, food vendors and refreshments as they relax after finishing.


Running enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels take to the streets for this stunning 13.1-mile course, including some challenging climbs like Brady Street Hill which boasts seven to nine percent grades for over one third of a mile.

Participants of this race are treated to breathtaking views of San Diego’s famed beaches, picturesque bays and iconic resorts and neighborhoods. After crossing the finish line, runners can celebrate with friends at a bayside festival that features live music performances, craft beer gardens as well as food booths for vendor shopping.

America’s Finest City Half Marathon and 5K brings elite runners from around the globe together for an annual competition that raises over $3.4 Million for local non-profit organizations in 34 years of existence. Kenyan Nelson Oyugi and Belaynesh Zemedkun hold men’s and women’s race records respectively; Nelson Oyugi holds men’s record and Belaynesh Zemedkun holds women’s. The America’s Finest City event has raised more than $3.4 Million over 34 years for charitable causes!

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego attracted thousands of athletes this April, running through eight neighborhoods before crossing the finish line in downtown Balboa Park. Check out some images from this exciting weekend here.

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