SF gets ready for Bay to Breakers

May 14, 2009 7:15:50 PM PDT
The 98th running of San Francisco's annual footrace -- the Bay to Breakers -- takes place this Sunday. The 98th running of San Francisco's annual footrace -- the Bay to Breakers -- takes place this Sunday.

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At least 60,000 participants are expected, with thousands more watching on the sidelines.

If organizers have their way, it will be unlike any in recent years.

The tents are being erected, and the Porta-potties set up at Golden Gate park. That is where the party after the party known as Bay to Breakers will take place. Organizers hope they will have something to celebrate.

"Our number one goal to make the race safe and respectful for the city," race organizer Angela Fang said.

Safe hopefully, but respectful might be harder to achieve. Bay to Breakers is known for what one fan calls the "good times."

"Yeah, the good times; the nudity, the alcohol, the floats, all the pageantry," Ed Sharpless said.

But organizers say the downside is public drunkenness and all that goes with it.

They have given up on trying to control the nudity, but there will be other changes.

There will be a new corral system at the starting line to group runners of similar speed, organizers and the police will enforce alcohol ordinances, including confiscating kegs and bottles. Officials initially said "no" to floats, but will now allow them only at a designated point but without booze on board.

"Those are the stated rules, i don't know if that's actually what will happen on race day," Sharpless said.

Sharpless is OK with the changes now, but a few weeks ago he was one of thousands of race fans who used the Internet to mount a massive protest, accusing organizers of trying to take the fun out of the event.

Fang says she was surprised at the level of outrage.

"Our changes in policy directly relate to feedback from the neighborhood, from community, from the city, from participants that enough is enough," Fang said.

ABC7 found one resident who lives in Haight Ashbury near the course who says Bay to Breakers is the least of her concerns.

"We live with urination, defecation and booze here all the time; we have such problems with the street kids, this is nothing in comparison, nothing," Grace Hersh said.

The San Francisco Police Department would not give specific numbers, but says there will be sufficient officers on hand to ensure everything goes smoothly with the new rules.

ABC7NEWS.COM is the exclusive destination for live video streaming coverage of the ING Bay to Breakers 2009. ABC7NEWS.COM will be the only place, on-air or online, where you can watch the event LIVE. Our coverage of the annual San Francisco 12K race takes place on Sunday, May 17, from 7:45 - 11:00 a.m.

  • Watch the ING Bay to Breakers live stream on ABC7NEWS.COM
  • Post pictures to the ING Bay to Breakers 2009 Flickr group

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