Today was the 99th annual Bay To Breakers 12K run presented by ING.
In what can only be described as organized chaos; this yearly event is one part legitimate marathon, two parts Mardi Gras parade, and a dash of Halloween rolled into one.
The event, which is clothing optional and alcohol enhanced has come into scrutiny in recent years. Home owners along the course had petitioned to put an end to the "party" in 2008. But the rest of the public would have no such thing and the police and event organizers worked together to get a better handle on the public drunkenness.
This was my first year participating and it lived up to every thing I had heard.
Where other cities may not embrace the party; San Francisco seems to accept the fact that 60,000 people are going to crash the entrance of the race in full costume, with home made floats all while throwing tortillas into the air.
The official race I am sure was long over when my friend Shagun and I crossed under the starting gate at 8:30 in the morning.
I had left my apartment at 7:15am to head to the Financial District where the starting line was. I boarded a bus full of Marina girls and boys who were already intoxicated and dressed in full 80's neon. The party had clearly begun.
My plan was to ride the bus to the underground and then take the subway the rest of the way. When I reached the subway; I was informed that my normal Muni fast pass was not valid until 8am in order to allow official participants in the race expedited travel to the starting line.
I could pay them $10.00 and get on the train with the real racers...
With my $10.00 green sticker I was now on my way to the starting line.
The subway station at the race entrance was full of people dressed in full costume carrying blow up pools, water guns, and bags of tortillas!
A volunteer at the top of the escalator was yelling, "Last chance to register before starting the race!"
There didn't seem to be any need to register. No one asked to see my "number." I just walked through the gates to the starting line where I waited for Shagun to arrive.
The route worked its way from The Bay down Mission Street periodically twisting and turning through the city until eventually reaching the Great Highway at the Pacific Ocean.
Yes, there was the tortillas being tossed!
Yes, there was nudity!
Yes, there was public urination!
Yes, there was public intoxication!
Yet despite all that, the event seemed very peaceful!
My favorite costume was a group of people dressed as salmon who were "swimming" up stream by walking the race in the wrong direction!
I also got a kick out of the brilliant person who created a large cardboard cut out of the Tanner family from Full House and positioned it on the hill in front of the house featured in the opening credits of the show.
Shagun and I walked most of the race but then did start to jog for the last mile. It was a good thing that we did that. At 11:30am they closed the gates on the final part of the course just as we crossed through. I would have been really bummed if we had made it that far only to be denied access to the finish line.
After crossing the finish line we got our free water, free ice cream sandwich and began the long walk back to the buses.
My $10.00 ticket from earlier in the day allowed my access to the "express" bus back to the City. Unfortunately, I should have ridden the regular bus with Shagun because the "express" bus took me back to the starting line. This meant I had to walk several large blocks to catch a bus back to my neighborhood.
All in all a good day!
The Song Of The Day - Walking On Sunshine by Katrina and The Waves