1) Getting In:: This race is a lottery. You can sign up as a group with a bunch of friends, and if any of your names gets pulled out of a hat, you're all in. The cost is 150$ for the the half, $175 for the full. I have done this with a group and luckily, have gotten in. You can also fund-raise and run with a Team in Training. I think there is a minimum about of money you must raise, but all the profits go to the Leukemia and Lymphomia Society. You can also sign up as a college student, the entry fee is less ($75).
2) The Expo:: The expo tent is set up in Union Square across from Nike Town. Nike Town was full of people purchasing NWM12 memorabilia. I only went in there to use the restroom. Didn't buy anything. I got to the expo early Saturday moning, and there was no wait. I walked in, grabbed my bib and walked out. There were no exciting free goodies (at least that I saw). There was a Nutrogena station where they were doing makeovers, a Nuun tasting area, Safeway handing out trail mix, Luna bar samples, a bunch of Nike products on display and I think you could try out the Yurbuds.
3) The RACE:: This year was way better than last year. For one, they had corrals set up and there was security checking while people walked in. However, once inside the corral people were able to push their way closer to the front. It was a lot less contested, but there were still a lot of slow runners/walkers in the way.
The first half of the race had really good support and volunteers at the aid stations. Lots of people handing out water and Nuun at every other mile. (It could have been every mile, I don't remember). At mile 6, 12 and 18 they had Block Shots. The bar of shots was cut in half which made it really easy to eat. They also had miniture luna bars at a few stations. I also saw a good amount of port-o-potties and aid stations in the first half. The first 13 miles were pretty quite, no real cheering crowd, few entertainers, I think I was more entertained by people watching and by checking out the view. Once we split from the half marathoners, the course was dead, no crowds, fewer runners, pretty dead. After we ran out of the Golden Gate Park and down to the lake, I didn't really see any signs of a race going on. There were 2 water stations, a group of kids cheering in the last 6 miles. More importantly, there was no chocolate mile!! I was super bummed about not getting ANY chocolate this whole weekend.
4) The After Party:: After crossing the finish line you are immediately handed a space blanker and a water, in my case, 2 because I was dying. They had bagels, bananas and luna bars (only one per person, WTH!). They also hand you a finishers tee and the infamous Tiffany's necklace. Within the finisher's area there were people handing out water, safeway was handing out chocolate milk, there was coconut water and Nuun. Nitrogena had a booth set up to clean yourself up and had sample sunscreens to give away. I did't make it to the back, but they had a photographer taking pictures of the finishers with the cute firemen.
In the end, this years race was better organized than last years. It was too crowded (but that was expected) and lacked a little support in the last 10 miles. Overall, I enjoyed it. It was an improvement, the course was still beautiful and killer and the necklace was .... Tiffany's. I hope I can do it again next year!