Yesterday was the 104th running of the uniquely San Francisco Bay to Breakers race, a combination footrace and party, in fact a 7.4 mile long party highlighted more by the outrageous costumes and floats of the participants, like a parade on fast forward, than a more serious marathon……This is a long and time honored San Francisco tradition which has endured good times and bad…
There were approximately 50, 000 people participating in the latest race, which starts at the foot of the bay in downtown San Francisco and wends it’s way up and down some of the steepest hills in the world, especially the dreaded Hayes street hill, through the Golden Gate Park, all the way to the Great Highway on Ocean Beach, to the official finish line approximately 7.4 miles away…..That is the Bay to the Breakers, from the placid Bay downtown to the Pacific ocean with the waves breaking on the shore…
Oh sure, there are cash prizes for the elite runners, the serious athletes who run in all the marathons and whose times are measured in the tenths of a second, but these highly trained and motivated athletes, both male and female, finished in times as low as 35.25 for the entire course, barely over a ½ hour……The serious runners make serious money, the top prize is $25,000….Very few of the people that run this “race” are in it for the money, though…There are booths and tents set up for the after party in the park as well….
The main base of runners, in fact the overwhelming majority are in it more to display their outrageous costumes, each group of friends trying to outdo the other in the sheer outlandishness, audacity and shock value of their costumes…There are always some people who insist on running naked, with only their tennis shoes on….For some reason, these seem to always be the people you would least want to see naked!
And there is shameless consumption of beer and other alcoholic spirits, despite the best efforts of the police to control this outburst of mass public drunkenness as they run, jog, and even walk throughout the race, and often just flop down with their friends in a convenient spot to rest, catch their breath, and take pictures of each other….Some straggle to the finish line 8 hours later, and some never bother to finish the race at all!
It is a visual delight to see however, and I have attended, but not actually participated in, many of these bizarre and colorful extravaganzas of the greatest examples of costumes, each trying to outdo the other…It is like Halloween in motion, Halloween on wheels, there was tons of glitter, fairies and elves and ballerinas and princes and princesses….There were disco queens and pop idols like Elvis, all mixed in with serious runners in jogging suits and sneakers determinedly huffing and puffing their way to the finish line….
There were giraffes and other animal costumes, there were super hero capes and masks, like Spider man, the Avengers entire roster, Wonder Woman….There was one guy with a pirate ship float that fit 3 runners ,(and actually floated!) there were the usual multi-populated centipede costumes, which take at least 10 people to fill out….
There were Dorothy’s and scarecrows and lions and tigers and bears, oh my!There were Tarzans and cheetahs, there was a walking whoopee cushion, a man dressed as a banana, another dressed as a toilet, a lot of Warriors costumes since our basketball teal is doing so well, people dressed in rainbow knit ponchos, lots of bright rainbow colors and psychedelic hues…
It was, and always is, a visual feast for the eyes rather than a true race or marathon, and it began so long ago most people today do not even remember there ever not being an annual Bay to Breaker’s race…..The whole event is about joyous optimism and outrageous behavior in public and people who do not actually run almost always bring their children and ring the sidelines throughout the entire length of the race so they can take pictures and witness the mass craziness for themselves….
You really have to see it to catch the full flavor of the celebration, and although I will include some pictures I urge you to Google some of the more outrageous photos, as there are literally nearly 50,000 people and the great majority plan all year to design or develop the most outrageous costumes…
It is all done in a spirit of fun, and fun is in short supply these days…It is a welcome break from the more serious world, and for one day everybody can be anybody they can dream up in their wildest fantasies….
You can run wild in the streets, and not be alone, it is an officially sanctioned and condoned event by the city…I am happy to live in a city where we can have such zany events and be free to express ourselves and have the blessing of the city government as well, at least once a year…
Sometime, you just need to take a break and let off some steam!
4 thoughts on “San Francisco Bay To Breakers Traditional Race”
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Hi Candice, you sound like a real early bird!…I would have replied sooner but your comments were sent to my SPAM folder by mistake…I try to write a new blog every day, it is all just an emotional and honest observation by me of life around me every day, and if I can throw anything informational in there I will certainly do so, I do rely on Google sources for a lot of the technical info and work that into the blog as well…The Bay to Breakers is a really cool only in San Francisco event I basically know first hand…Thanks again, John
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Thanks, Everett, I am glad you enjoyed the post about the bay to breakers, it is an only in San Francisco tradition…I try to write a fresh blog every day, so check me out anytime…Again, thanks for your kind words, John