Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spotlight on San Francisco: Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers - always the third Sunday in May! If you are thinking of a trip to SF around that time, you need to know all about B2B.

Touted as the "oldest footrace in America", B2B has become more than just a 12K run. Sure, the elite runners start off the race, but they are finished long before the rest of the folks starting pulling their beer carts up Howard Street. Yes, beer carts, often pulled by about 10 Elvis's and / or naked people. B2B is an excuse for a city-wide costume party and unfortunately, some of those costumes are birthday suits - usually by folks who should be covering themselves up and NOT running around naked. And then there are the salmon spawn - they run the whole race dressed as salmon and run "upstream". I so want to be a salmon one year!

Technically, nudity and alcohol are prohibited. But really, how do you control thousands of people all hell-bent on breaking the rules? Folks who love to sleep in late actually set their alarms so they can start getting drunk at 7:30am on a Sunday - this is serious business!

If you are a tourist, you'd better know the route of the Breakers because it will effect your sightseeing. Starting at the Embarcadero and heading up Howard Street, the course makes it way to the dreaded Hayes Street Hill. Once it reaches Alamo Square, there is a big party with DJ's and everything (forget about seeing the famous Painted Ladies on this day). The course is all downhill from there and continues along Fell Street and the Panhandle, through Golden Gate Park and out to the Beach where it ends. Well, the "race" ends there. There is a huge party at that end of GG Park and you will see drunk people wearing tiaras and wings stumbling around all over the city till late Sunday evening.

If all this isn't your aesthetic, I'd suggest getting out of the city early and heading up to Wine Country. Road closures start around 7am downtown (or earlier by the start line) and continue most of the morning.

B2B is an experience - if you are a runner or even an active walker - it is a blast to participate in. The people watching alone is worth it. If you just want to dress up like a ballerina bunny rabbit with wings and party, it is your type of event. 

In case you need further proof of just how crazy this is, we created a video from Alamo Square today. Notice the landmark Painted Ladies - I felt bad for the tourists trying to take pictures there today!

(For the record, I'm annoyed with the quality YouTube is doing on uploads these days. This is an HD video. Looks waaaaaaaay better on Facebook).

-- Happy Bay to Breaking!!

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