Thousands expected to race in Bay to Breakers

Participants dressed in costumes take place in the 98th Bay to Breakers 12K run in San Francisco on May 17, 2009. (Photo courtesy of Potential Past/Flickr)
May 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Runners are gearing up for San Francisco's annual Bay to Breakers event on Sunday, but running is merely an afterthought for many participants who spend more time preparing costumes than training for the 7.46-mile race.

Starting at around 8 a.m., the course will take racers - costumed or not - from the Embarcadero to Hayes Street Hill, then downhill along the Panhandle and through Golden Gate Park.

Drivers should expect these areas to be closed off to cars.

Organizers have registered 48 creative floats so far that will roll behind the runners, said race manager Angela Fang. This is the first year participants were required to pay a $250 fee to register floats. The fee includes registration for 20 racers.

Whereas in previous years floats were required to exit the course in Golden Gate Park, Fang said that this year floats are required to exit the course at the entrance to the park near the Conservatory of Flowers.

Fang said this is because last year they had about 30 floats abandoned at the edge of the park that then had to be cleaned up.

"We're trying to make the event a little bit better for the impacted neighborhoods," she said.

There will be facilities available at this exit point for participants to park their floats, and racers can pick them up any time before 6 p.m., Fang said.

In addition to the walkers and creative floats, Bay to Breakers has also attracted an impressive line-up of world record holders, all vying for the $25,000 bonus for the winner of the race. Runners this year will include Sammy Kitwara, of Kenya, who broke both the course and world-records last year by finishing in 33:31.

Bay to Breakers had an estimated 60,000 participants last year, most of whom ran or walked the course dressed in full costume, body paint, or just tennis shoes and a smile. This year, sunny weather predictions for the weekend promise an equally impressive showing of racers.

San Francisco police said they will have officers deployed throughout the event, and that there will be zero tolerance for public drunkenness and public urination. The police department has coordinated with race organizers this year to remove kegs and bottles of alcohol from the race.

BART will open two hours earlier than the regular 8 a.m. starting time and run extra long trains on Sunday to accommodate racers. The early trains will run at 20 minute intervals starting at 6 a.m. BART is encouraging riders to buy two-way tickets before the race, and reminds riders that proper attire is required despite the "anything goes" attitude of the race.


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