Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Naked-tastic 100th Bay to Breakers

Every May in San Francisco, the Bay to Breakers 12k takes over the city streets with enough beer, nudity, and costumed craziness to rival Mardi Gras. This year marked the 100th running (my 6th), and despite more constrictive rules and the doubling of police to curtail the Bachanalia, it was as crazy as ever. Let those freak flags fly, my brothers and sisters!

I had originally planned to take Sophie the whole way in our new running rickshaw, but found out the day before that there would be no parade floats or wheeled vehicles this year. In fact, baby strollers weren't allowed! Oops. That put us in a tough spot since 4-year-old Sophie isn't quite old enough to walk 7.5 miles in forecast wind and rain, but heavy enough that a 3-hour piggy-back ride was out of the question. Poor Sophie was heartbroken, sulking through the Expo with a lower lip pushed out so far that it was tripping other runners. But then she found the booth for the new Hell Run in Half Moon Bay and decided mud, fire pits, and river crossings sounded waaay better. That apple don't fall far from the tree, I tell ya.
(Let the mayhem begin!)
So with no costume and no rickshaw, I picked up a Seeded number (just bring a copy of a fast finish time, and you can get one too) and decided to just run the damn thing for once. I didn't bring the camera due to projected rain, but grabbed my iPhone when the morning weather broke enough for a dry start. I made my way to the front, thrilled to warm up alongside of Olympic medalist Meb Keflezighi (promoting his new book), Boston Marathon winner Deriba Merga, local Olympian Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, Mario Mendoza (fresh off his 3rd place finish at the 15k national championships the day before, here to run in the Asics Aggies centipede), a dozen Kenyan and Ethiopian gazelles, and the usual mix of costumed characters like the ape, the busy bees, and some naked dudes in racing flats. Now THAT'S a starting line!

(Here we go!)
(The elite women go first)
The elite women went off first, and I had a chance to catch up with Ian Sharman, who oddly was not in costume. Perhaps running the Miwok 100k as Elvis and the Napa Marathon as Spiderman was too much for him this year? He just laughed, saying he needed to get some "actual" speed work in before Comrades in a few weeks. We did the countdown, and we were off!
(The pink ape was white this year...)
Despite clocking 5:28 for the first mile, I was at least 100 people back. The speed of the centipedes in particular were simply amazing, given that they were all hooked together with less than four feet between them. By the time we turned onto Hayes St, they were already heading up the hill nearly a mile ahead! That was easily a sub-5 min/mile pace. It was odd for me to go through this section of the course without seeing tens of thousands of people around me, the salmon people going in the other direction, and I think it made Hayes hill even more ominous. No problem...I just tucked in behind SF Giants pitcher Tim Lincecrum (costume, that is) and tried not to red line.
(No B2B is complete without naked vikings...let THAT etch into your retinas!)
Once we got over the hill, I tucked into a small group with Lincecrum, Waldo (from the book, Where's Waldo), a guy running barefoot in a sequin tunic, a Japanese runner singing karaoke out loud, and a guy with a t-shirt that said "DJ's love BJ's". We had good momentum (5:50 min/mile) for a group of misfits, and were making ground on the next group of runners which included the towering 6'6" naked guy, and a dude dressed as a Raggedy Anne doll. Spectators were out in force, also in full costume, cheering us on. Did I say this race was awesome? How fun is this?!?

(Which is more cool - that hat, or the Beat It-era Michael Jackson behind him?)
(Flower power!)
(City firemen do their best not to get caught up in the revelry)
We entered Golden Gate Park (mile 4), where the downhills spread us out. I checked my watch - 25:30 - surprised at how much Hayes hill had slowed us down, but also astounded that this race would be over before 8am. Do they still serve beer at the finish at 8am? Let's hope so.

(Muppets rule! Animal looks a little hungover though)
(Two cookie monsters making out...hmmm, maybe it's best that Sophie wasn't here this year)
I had to slow down a bit, much in thanks to a dry hack reminding me that last month's cold hadn't quite worked its way through my system yet. There's nothing like fast running to flush that out! We passed a slowing Ian Sharman, who quickly got on the tail of our pack to keep pace. As we glided through the final downhill section (mile 7), we all realized a sub-6 minute average was within reach if we kept at it. Ian passed me and ran straight into the headwind, and I drafted off him to the finish line in 44:34, roughly 132nd place (14th master), just behind Waldo and a naked guy. ;-)

("Objects under kilt may be larger than they appear")
(There was a lot of THIS going on)
(Just another day on Fell St)
Phew! That was fun, but tiring. I should be running faster these days, but then again, I should be sleeping more than 3 hours at a stretch (thank you, baby Quinn!). Honestly, I'm just so excited to be running anything these days you couldn't get the smile off my face. There is a lot of ambiguity in my life this Spring - no job, no start up company to define my Silicon Valley identity, a new kid and the change she brings to our family dynamics, etc. - it's nice to know at least some adventures in my life have a definitive beginning and end. Start here, end here, celebrate!

I did the cool down walk, making friends with Dusty from San Luis Obispo as we became the first to enter the beer tent. Beer at 8am? Abso-f'ing-lutely. I am unemployed after all. ;-) As the sun warmed us up, I met a lot of great people, including Reggie and Lisa from New Jersey, a couple from the Russian River Valley tackling their first B2B, and many others who trekked far and wide to be a part of this event. There's no doubt that Bay to Breakers is a "must do" race for a lot of people. Once I got a few beers in me, I walked the course backwards to take in the revelry - ain't nothing like it!
(Raggedy Anne does a warm down stretch in GG Park)

(Dusty and I enjoy a bit of sun at the end)
My thanks to the race organizers, police, and citizens of San Francisco to allow this city to celebrate its weirdness. I will certainly be back! Sophie won't possibly miss another one after seeing these pics...

- SD


  1. Hi Scott, I was the Snow Beast! Pink Gorilla is a different really fast guy. Raggedy Anne was my nemisis for a few miles. I am happy you caught a photo of her or him haha! Would you mind if I use that photo in my blog?

  2. I cannot beklieve you are over 50. 14th master not bad. I have not run in 5 years but ran the 75th,76th & 77th B2B and promised myself to be at the 100th. I trained hard, getting my running shoes out after 5 years and walking around in them saturday. I went to a concert, arrived home at 11PM Had a beer and 1/2 of an In And Out burger, a chalupa and two tacos from Taco Bell, a glass of wine and got to bed at 12:30. I woke up at five fully trained :-). I will train for next year. I realized how much I miss running. Cheers

  3. Love your account of the 100th bay to breaker... I

  4. Greetings Scott-

    Thanks for posting the great race recap and pics! This was my first B2B (running), and considering I was stuck in the muck of Group D, I was pretty satisfied with my 50:31 finish. Next year I hope to join you up with the speedy folk!

    On another note- I work with OutsidePR in the Presidio. Let me know if you would be interested in collaborating with our clients this summer.




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