SF's 'Mermaid Series Run' promotes female athleticism

Hundreds of runners laced up Sunday morning preparing for a fun and challenging race, including one that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge.

With options to run a 5K, 10K or 10-mile distance, the Mermaid Series Run helps introduce young girls and women to the sport of running. The 10-mile race brings runners across the Golden Gate Bridge.

"I've been training for three months," said Stefanie Smith from San Francisco. This is her first race in four years.

"I'm very excited to get out and cross the Bridge today."

A majority of athletes running are women, which was the goal for race coordinator Carlo Facchino.

"It's all about getting women to have a healthy output and outlet to go do it," Facchino said.

The Mermaid Run Series started as a triathlon about 20 years ago, but it's now used to promote and introduce women to running.

"At the time, it was almost 90% men, 10% women," Facchino said. "I wanted to have this event to encourage women to find out about triathlons and multi-sport. It was a thing that was very passionate for me."

The women participating say they use that passion to spread the message.

"My daughter has been watching me train for the last three months," Smith said. "She'll be at the finish line with a protein drink, so I'm thrilled that she gets to see her mom devoting time to athletic fitness in her life."

Other runs love how the race brings some together.

"Every year when run, I see young people running with their parents or guardians, it's such a beautiful connection," said Fon Marcolongo of South San Francisco. 

For Facchino, the passion for the race stems from his childhood experiences.

"I remember as a little kid seeing my friend's dad come home after he finished a marathon," Facchino said. "That impression I had as a little kid was huge, so it's so true what we do in our lives has impact and such memorable experiences for your daughter, son, your friends' daughter or son."