Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tales From the Back of the Pack

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bay to Breakers Race Recap

My brother and his wife + our  cousin and her son + BD and I = 6 of us packed into the Sequoia early Saturday morning and headed up to San Francisco for the 100th anniversary of the B2B. I have to say that the only thing more fun than running races is to run races with people you love. And when your loved ones are willing to humor you (me) with your (my) silly requests to run in costumes, well...my heart was overflowing.

The 6 of us arrived in the Bay area a little past noon, checked into the Oakland Marriott and then drove into the City to the Expo and packet pick up. The Expo itself was no big shakes. Ho-hum vendors, nothing great being given away, our swag bag was an envelope that contained the bib and chip.

Dean Karnazes was there at the Expo posing for pictures and signing books or something. I was excited to get my picture taken with him but we arrived late and they closed the line on me. I would have been disappointed by missing the opportunity to meet him by literally a few seconds but you know what? He wasn't as tall in person as he appears in my imagination or in this picture. Not as good looking either, IMO. Sorry, Dean.

After the Expo we had dinner at Fisherman's Wharf--where I spotted a fellow Dodger fan GO BLUE-- then back to the hotel for final preparations (laid out our costumes!) and bed.

As luck would have it, it was prom night all over the Bay area this weekend and around midnight our floor was overrun with drunken overdressed overzealous overpriveleged teens. I absolutely hated myself for doing it but I called the front desk over and over and over again to get the party shut down. I felt so old...so curmudgeonly. But at least I got a couple of hours sleep.

Sunday morning arrived, we put on our costumes, applied our make up

and then walked across the street to the BART. I had planned these costumes for several weeks, running around town finding red tech shirts, ruining countless Incredibles iron-ons, finding black  gloves in all the different sizes for everyone in our group, but all the effort was absolutely worth it. I was blown away at how SUPER COOL we looked when we made our way as a group over to the race. People were stopping us to take their picture with us. It was such a thrill!

Finding the start of the race was easy enough. All we had to do was follow the flying tortillas! 

You know you're at the Bay to Breakers when you see your first nude guy standing in line at the porta potty. We intended to take a picture of his backside, but this guy generously turned around to pose for our camera. I don't know, I mean, if I'm already naked, why am I going to wait in line at the porta potty? Eeeks. 

We made our way to our corrals, found a small cafe that was open and serving breakfast so we split 1 scone 4 ways and then the starting horn sounded and we were off. The race course was super crowded almost the entire route. We started at the Embarcadero, down Howard Street to 9th, turned on 9th to Hayes where we had to run "the Hill". We knew there'd be hills on this course, being SF and all, but this one was a mutha of a hill. We walked the entire hill mostly because we wanted to, but really we didn't have a choice. The crowd was too thick to try to weave around people.

It was hard to concentrate on running when I had to keep taking my camera out to capture those images that would be hard to believe unless there is proof. Nothing prepares you for the spectacle that is the Bay to Breakers race. Every time I mentioned to someone that I was going to run this race, I would wait for what became the inevitable response: PARTY, COSTUMES, ALCOHOL, NUDITY, CRAZINESS and not necessarily in that order. It is all of those things, but the reality is that you have to experience the sur-reality to believe it.

After a couple more turns I think onto a street named Fell, we headed into Golden Gate Park for the final 3 miles. Our group had split up along the race course because we all had differing race goals and abilities. BD and I stayed together the entire way supporting each other.

We snapped a picture at the finish line, collected our medal then went in search of the post race snacks at the post race Footstock Festival.

All in all, this was a well-organized event. There was water stations at every mile although they were only located on the right side of the street. I carry my own hand held Nathan bottle so this didn't bother me but BD had to work his way across the crowd and back to our side of the street every time he needed water. The porta potties were only located on our side of the street and while I never had to use them they created a traffic jam for us at every station.

We weren't ever able to run as fast as we would have liked and according to my Garmin, with all the weaving we did we ended up adding a quarter mile to the official distance. We'd registered too late to be assigned a faster corral and the corral we were put in was obviously more geared for people interested in the Mardi Gras than in the PR.

Still this race was indescribably fun. The 6 of us made a pact to all run it together next year. We even already have a great idea for a group costume. I'm sorta torn between registering early to be assigned into a corral where we can try for a PR, or hanging back with the walkers to fully enjoy the race in all of it's glorious debauchery.

Final results:
Official finish time 1:26:33, 7.46 miles (BD beat me by 20 seconds)
Garmin time 1:26:20, 7.63 miles

Total naked runners count:
42 males (and none of them had anything worth showing off, if ya know what I mean)
3 females (ditto)

P.S. At checkout on Sunday afternoon I complained to the front desk about the prom kids' noise the night before and got 50% of my room fee refunded to me. How 'bout that?!? Thank you Oakland Marriott!


  1. Paint me green! This is one of my dream races. I told my wife that B2B and the Honolulu Marathon are my two biggies! Your pictures were awesome. I can't wait to run it.

  2. Your costumes were super cool! I love the photos, and it looks like a total blast to experience!

  3. Sounds like a fun race!! Can't believe there were all those naked runners! And your costumes are awesome!!

  4. What a funtastic race and a fabulous race recap!!! Love y'all's costumes, too! I can't get over the naked peeps - too freakin' funny! I would stare cuz I'm so immature! =)

  5. I loved the costumes u guys looked awesome. Next year Im thinking we should all go as Pixar characters AND we'll make Fight Club to roll into that so we'll have to beat the sh___ out of whoever gets the best time

  6. I love the costumes irene! What a good idea for costumes! And that's quite an interesting race. how awkward that you have to see all those naked people! wierd! at least it was more enjoyable and entertaining than some of the other longer ones you've done. haha. i enjoyed the pictures and how you told it like a story. you are a really good writer. your stories keep me interested. what a cool blog!