Bay to Breakers 2011

I have lived in the Bay Area since 1998 and not once have I ever had the desire to participate in Bay to Breakers. While it's amusing to watch the debauchery, it's never fun to be in it. After realizing that last year was the 99th running of this race, I decided that I would have to participate in it's 100th anniversary. I mean, how many opportunities would I have to be in the 100th running of any race? And to top it off, for the very first time, there would be Finisher medals. Isn't it all about the bling?!

In the days leading up to the race I found myself getting a little nervous. Not about having to run the race, but about the mass humanity expected at it. I hate huge crowds and there were 55,000 people registered for it. In total, 100,00+ were expected, as most people bandit this race. I had heard way too many crazy stories over the years of people puking, peeing, grabbing you, etc. so I decided to carry pepper spray with me. I would be armed and ready!

Expo

Apparently I don't read the fine print very well and missed the opportunity to have my bib and timing chip mailed to me. This meant I had to venture to the expo that was held at the San Francisco Design Center, which is in the most inconvenient part of the City.

Although the expo opened on Friday, I couldn't make it there till Saturday afternoon. There is no parking in that area and traffic was a mad house. Thankfully, I had someone drop me off and circle the block while I ran in to pick up my packet.

Surprisingly, there were no lines for packet pick-up or to purchase shuttle tickets for rides from the Finish back to the Start Line. There was a line, however, for T-shirts but it moved quickly. Being that the title sponsor was Zazzle, and given how expensive the race fee was (for only a 12K!), I expected a little more pizzazz out of the race shirt. Instead, we got this:

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{the cheapest, plainest shirt ever}

I was in and out of the expo in record time, but was able to snap this photo of Dean Karnazes, the Ultra Marathon Man!

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Race Day

As per usual on race week, I obsessively tracked the weather, and there was a 70% of rain showers expected in the City on Sunday morning. So for the first time, I cut out a trash bag to wear to keep me warm and dry before (and possibly during) the race.

After considering all possible transportation options to the Start Line, I decided that BART was the best option to take. BART had special schedule just for B2B and I was able to catch a 5:30 am train that dropped me off on the Embarcadero, just a few blocks from the starting corrals.

I easily found Audrey and Sandra and we amused ourselves by observing all of the creative costumes.

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Once inside the corral area (by the way, they did check our bibs to make sure we entered the coral that we were assigned to) we had to wait a few more minutes before the race began.

During this time we saw flying tortillas (I still don't understand the meaning behind them)...

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...and people disrobing to run naked (behind us):

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I won't blind you with the actual naked photos of them. They were not people you would want to see naked and my eyes are still burning.

Once the race started, things moved pretty quickly and we crossed the Start Line shortly after the gun had gone off.

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Not thinking of this as a race, and having no goal time, we decided to take it easy and run together. Since this was my one and only Bay-to-Breakers, I wanted to just take in the experience.

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And for the first time ever I ran the entire race WITHOUT music! This was huge for me folks. Previously, the longest I'd ever run without music was the 4-miles I ran with Layla before the Oakland Running Festival. This would top that and be the longest distance ever without any tunes. And you know what? I rather enjoyed it.

I socialized with random people during this race, more than any other race I've run. I even ran into the other 3 people who were on the BART train with me that morning!

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{stopping to take photos along the course}

The rest of the race was pure entertainment:

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{my personal favorite}

The spectators and crowd support were just as entertaining. Throughout the course, residents came out of their homes to watch and cheer, many even setting up speakers in their doorways and windows to blast music and contribute to the party.

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{running through Golden Gate Park}

If there's one thing to love about this race it's the feeling of community it brings out in the City. Bay to Breakers definitely has more local support than the San Francisco Marathon. (Soapbox: I wish SFM would engage the community more to build a connection between the City and the race.)

As the ocean came into view I knew the Finish Line was near.

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This time, as I crossed the Finish Line I looked up at the cameras instead of looking down to turn off my Garmin because for once, time didn't matter.

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B2B-Finish
B2B-Misc
B2B-Misc

As we were shuffled through the Finish area we searched for the medals. They weren't there but there were areas to take your Finisher's photos. Isn't that weird, to have Finishers photos with no medal?!

We had to walk what I swear was about a half mile to where the medals were being handed out.

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{with our bling!}

I had so many friends that ran the race who I would have loved to have hung out with at Footstock (post-race festival), but the weather in Golden Gate Park was cold. There was no gear check so we didn't have any dry clothes to change into. I put my trash bag back on and we headed to brunch.

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{still wearing the trash bag at brunch}

Overall, I ended up enjoying the race much more than I expected I would. But it mostly had to do with the company that I was with. Many thanks to Audrey and Sandra for running with me!

Now I can check this off my bucket list and never have to run it again. For the cost of the race and the logistical challenges, it's not one that I'll be doing again.

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B2BMap

{course map}

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B2B-Elevation

{course elevation}

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{race medal}

Many thanks to RoadBunner for sharing her photos with me!