The San Francisco Bay To Breakers Run is billed as the "biggest footrace in the world", and I would not argue with that. Some 50,000 to 70,000 runners, walkers, fun seekers and exhibitionists participated in the 89th running on May 21, 2000. I was among them. Why? Well, maybe we retired folks just have too much time on our hands. Seriously, San Francisco is a great city to visit anytime and the "run" was something you should do sometime before you are "too old."
I got on the internet early and was able to get a round trip flight for $219 so that was nice. If you don't have friends in the area I would suggest you stay at the race hotel. It was a Hyatt or Hilton, I don't remember which but you can walk right out the door to the starting line. Public transportation is plentiful with many CalTrains and busses going everywhere.
The day before the race a huge exposition was held at the civic center. There you could pick up your race packet, visit all the tents, pick up the freebees, and people watch. That was a full day in itself.
On race day I arrived at the starting point in downtown S.F. at about 6:30 a.m. That was easy as California time is two hours behind ours. I parked very near the start ($10) and checked out the starting area. A few hundred were already there in some very amusing costumes. Bands were playing. There were two side streets for starting. One for the runners and another for those who came to walk, cavort, prance, etc. I took pictures of several runners and then got into my running stuff as the crowds were really building by 7:00 a.m. They have about 300 seeded runners up front, about 700 subseeded runners behind them (39 minute 10K required) and then the mob.
As 8:00 a.m. approached they just kept coming and coming and pressing in closer and closer. At the same time everyone was relaxed and in a good mood and there were many costumes to enjoy. I don't know where the nude runners were hiding at that time. Excitement grew and the crowd was cheering s the gun went off at 8:00 a.m. I was around the corner and about 300 years from the start so I did not see the elites go off. Within two minutes I was moving and shuffled to an 11 minute first mile. Great crowds cheering all the way. I passed two miles in 21 minutes and was now only 7 minutes "behind schedule." Going into mile 3 , I was actually hitting a running stride. Going up the long Hayes Street hill I ran up behind my first two nude runners. Two fiftyish males were in full stride. I ran behind them for 100 yards or so and then had to move to the other side of the street...it was not a pretty sight!
By mile 4 we were on the downhill part and it was delightful as we ran the entire length of Golden Gate Park. It was shady and the crowds were great. Mile 6 to the Pacific Ocean was downhill and easy as the cool ocean breezes dropped the temperature several degrees. Then it was into the chutes and the finish. I managed a 59 minute run and was 896th out of the 50,000+ mob. I grabbed a water bottle and returned to the chutes to watch the costumed and fun types arrive...and they kept coming for ever.
The mob then walked back into Golden Gate Park for the post race celebrations. There was food, beer, bands, vendor tents and another opportunity to just look at runners and other strange people. After awhile my weariness set in and I hopped one of scores of busses hauling us back to the starting line. It was over...
My plan is set for next year. I will join the "crazies" in the last 30,000. I think they had the most fun with much less effort than I expended. If you want more photos or information, check out www.baytobreakers.com.......and make plans for next May!