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Bay to Breakers – An “only in San Francisco” event

Yesterday was the 102nd “running” of Bay to Breakers, a 12K race that takes you from the Embarcadero (Bay) to Ocean Beach (Breakers).  This was my first race since moving out to SF and the longest I have run to date.  I’ve been doing a 10K training program, for no particular reason other than it keeps me motivated, and I was scheduled to run 6 miles, so B2B came at a perfect time.

I had asked on Facebook if I should run for a time or enjoy the experience; I tried to do both.  I started in the E corral, which is where all of the madness typically happens with all of the walkers.  Upon arriving via BART and making my way to the start line, the Bay Bridge was in full view.  This never gets old.  It was a gorgeous day to run!

I moved my way to the front of the corral to avoid as much of the huge crowd as possible. 

The crowd was well behaved due primarily to increased security required by the Boston Marathon bombings.  There were quite a few completely wasted people, some just drunk and others looking completely strung out on drugs.  Honestly, I think they were on their way home from a long night out and happened to get swallowed up by the crowd.  I crossed the start line around 7:15am.

The first 2-3 miles were super crowded, making it challenging to get a good pace going.  Once I got to the top of Hayes Street Hill (a hill that looked a thousand feet high when I was at the bottom, yet was apparently only a 128’ incline), the runners started to thin out and making up lost time became easier.  Here’s the view from the top of the hill.  I wanted to get a picture looking back down the hill at the mass of people, but I was looking right into the sun, so the picture didn’t turn out.

To keep you inspired along the way, lots of bands are hired by home owners and by the race itself, but there are also many impromptu bands including this drum line.  The depth and pace of the drums got my feet moving faster.

Costumes.  Now here’s where it gets interesting.  Actually, I didn’t see as much crazy stuff as I expected.  Talking to some people after the race, they said those are usually the last people to start, walk the entire race, and many don’t even enter the race.  It’s more or less a giant street party when they come through.  There were lots of interesting costumes (see some here), and other folks completely lacked any costume.

After Hayes Street Hill, the remainder of the race is downhill into Golden Gate Park.  The view at the end of the race is nothing short of spectacular.

At the end of the race, I found people to snap a couple of pictures for me.  I celebrated my finish with a visit to the beer garden.  You do have to hydrate post-race after all.


My goal was to finish under 1:07:30, a 9 minute pace.  I worked hard the last two miles to get there, and barely beat my goal.  Perhaps a half marathon is in my future.


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