99th Annual Bay to Breakers

What do you call a footrace where the participants dress up in costumes or wear nothing at all, throw old tortillas at each other and drink like there’s no tomorrow?  The beloved Bay to Breakers 12K – a San Francisco tradition since 1912.

I think of it as a “Mardi Gras with a California Fitness twist.”  Tolerance is the order of the day, and people feel more than free to express themselves through their attire (or lack thereof).  Technically nudity is not allowed, and neither is the consumption of alcohol now, but as long as you are discreet (with the alcohol and not the nudity obviously), the police leave you alone.

It’s funny, but instead of asking each other in the week leading up to the third Sunday in May what they are doing for the weekend, San Franciscans ask each other “Are you going to the Bay to Breakers?”  It’s that big an event.  In terms of the actual number of people, we’re talking about 70,000 participants.

So what is the “Bay” and what is the “Breakers”?  Well, the race starts at Howard/Beale, near the Embarcadero, and ends at Golden Gate Park (the western side).   In terms of miles, that just under seven-and-a-half miles (7.46 mi).

A couple of cool factoids about Bay to Breakers?

* It was recently named one of the 101 things every sports fan must do before they die by ESPN.

* It is the world’s longest footrace that has been run consecutively without changing in length or changing course.

* It made the Guiness Book of World Records in 1986, when 110,000 people participated in the event.

Next year is the 100th year of the race, and you can bet that I will be there.  Will you?


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