Last month I signed up for the 103rd Bay to Breakers, and yesterday I walked it. It was my first time entering this historic San Francisco event, and it didn’t disappoint. The “Bay to Breakers” is a 7.46 mile (12K) course from the Embarcadero (the Bay) to the Great Highway (the Breakers) and is known for its costumed and uncostumed participants. Yes, some of the entrants believe that clothing is optional.
This year an estimated 35,000 paid a $59 entrance fee and received a T-shirt, a bib with an electronic tracking device, and a medal at the finish line. Thousands of others joined in as gawkers on the sidelines or party crashers on the course. Later estimates ran as high as 150,000 running, walking, and watching.
My team played it conservatively, with matching orange T-shirts and a collective decision to stay together. Other teams competed for attention with flamboyant costumes, raunchy costumes or lack of costumes. I was impressed with the centipedes running tethered together, forcing each participant to keep up an ambitious pace. The starters, serious runners, distanced themselves from the crowds as they led the race at 8:24am.
The weather cooperated, and the morning fog burned off early, leaving a sunny if breezy day. With so many participants, it’s not a time for setting records. My own goal was to finish before noon. I sent pictures of my progress to my family along the route. Later, I found that none of the pictures arrived until later in the day, perhaps due to the sheer volume of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Foursquare, and Facebook “sends”.
The winner of the race, a Kenyan, reached the finish line in 35 minutes, before we even started.