Only in San Francisco Foot Race

A truly "only in San Francisco" event

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Josh Keppel
    The Princess, Mario Kart, and the Mushroom climb Hayes Hill for the 98th running of Bay to Breakers in 90+ degree heat in San Francisco on Sunday May 17, 2009.

    Bay to Breakers is by far San Francisco’s best event. Most  treat it like a holiday every year- a ritual respected with planning and understanding of tradition.

    The 12K race is no easy feat, especially when you factor in Hayes Street Hill.

    Let’s be honest. Bay to Breakers is a 7 mile long street party celebrating the laid back culture that accepts everyone whether in running shoe, costume, body paint or none of the above.

    The race itself was created to give the people of San Francisco hope while they rebuilt after the 1906 quake. About 150 runners took to the streets in 1912 for what was known then as the "Cross City Race."

    For many, just participating speaks to the rebellious heart of the city. Organizers strongly recommend registering because you get a cool shirt and can feel good about helping with clean up costs. However, thousands ignore that rule.

    B2B is also one of those tri-annual occasions where the only real thing shocking about a naked old man walking down the street is that both cheeks are bright red because of a lack of sunscreen.

    Race organizers try to crackdown on the drinking and nudity every year and so far have not been very successful. It just adds to the truly San Francisco feel. The people take on "the man."

    The race got its current name at the height of the cultural revolution. In 1964- just before the Grateful Dead became known as the Grateful Dead, organizers renamed the race Bay to Breakers.

    In just two years- people from across the world came to the city by the bay to have some fun.

    DOIN' IT WELL:

    • Check out your local dollar store for costumes. My group got tons of compliments a few years back on these silly little kid cowboy hats and water guns. The year after that, we went as a pool party in our bathing suits with beach toys, floaties and towels. Costumes for four people were less than 20 bucks and we didn't have to feel bad losing the toys along the way.
    • I have to admit sometimes the best way to do Bay to Breakers is not to do Bay to Breakers. Camp out at Alamo Square or the Panhandle and let the madness come to you. You can sleep in until 10 am and still enjoy most of the floats and costumes.
    • If you do start from the beginning- make sure to get two-way tickets for BART and Muni. Cabs are nearly impossible to catch. BART also reminds riders they expect proper attire. Old Man Red Cheeks will need to cover up.

    On that note, bring sunscreen and let the sun shine in.