Big changes planned for Sunday's Bay to Breakers

Everyone knows Bay to Breakers is really about the costumes. This year did not disappoint.

May 13, 2011 10:13:56 PM PDT
The city of San Francisco is trying to make Sunday's 100th running of the Bay to Breakers race a tamer event than in the past. Organizers and police want fewer runners this year and no alcohol.

Over 55,000 people are expected to run in Sunday's race. Friday, Mayor Ed Lee was on the steps of City Hall, reaffirming that this year's race will be different.

"You can wear any zacky, wacky uniform you want, unfortunately, my wife got rid of my Spider Man outfit a long time ago, so I won't be able to do that," Lee said.

Lee received an honorary race bib and issued a proclamation declaring the coming days "Bay to Breakers Weekend."

Police Chief Greg Suhr issued his own proclamation Friday, warning participants that using doorsteps as bathrooms will not be tolerated.

People running this year's race will notice some significant differences from years past. This year, there is a ban on alcohol and there will be checkpoints along the way to make sure everyone running is registered and sober.

Unregistered runners will be tossed from the course and intoxicated runners will be forced to sober up in drunk tents along the route.

And the race's crazy floats? They are banned.

Conor McGovern-Calder lived along the race route for years. He welcomes the new regulations.

"I remember walking along and seeing flasks, broken flasks, broken 40s, just everywhere, just a huge mess," he said. "So I hope it cleans up the neighborhood."

Travis Rosette disagrees. He lives on Hayes Street and plans to watch the race from his balcony. He says the new rules will hamstring his excitement.

Organizers say runners can still come in costume or naked, they just need to come sober and pay the registration fee.

"We want people to come to this race dressed, undressed, in costumes, professional runners. We just don't want bottles of liquor with them," Bay to Breakers spokesperson Sam Singer said.

Of course this is about a serious race. The runners get caught up in the crowd.

"You don't feel lonely, you feel more strength with the noise from all around, from both sides of the street, so you feel so excited," Lineth Chepkurui, the 2010 women's winner said.

Chepkurui set a course record last year and is going for her third win. Meb Keflezighi hopes to be the first American to win the race since 1986. He won an Olympic silver medal in the 2004 summer games.

"I love racing because you get really close to the people and then they scream at you, they say 'Go USA!' or call your name, you get that energy, it definitely helps," Keflezighi said.

Extra ferries will be running Sunday morning for Bay To Breakers. In fact, the Alameda/Oakland Ferry line begins its summer weekend schedule Saturday.

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