After almost two decades of living in San Francisco, I decided finally to take part in one of its signature outdoor events–the annual running of the Bay To Breakers. Billed as the largest continuously held footrace in the world, the 99th edition was marked by the usual mix of elite and casual runners, outlandishly costumed runners and centipede groups, along with way too many runners who decided to run in the altogether.
I lined up in Corral B and spent the wait for the starting gun alternately tossing and trying to avoid being hit by tortilla shells. I’m not sure how the tortilla-tossing tradition started, but leave it to San Francisco to pioneer the use of biodegradable frisbees. With over 60,000 registered participants I expected a long wait before crossing the start line. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find our group moved swiftly across the line and onto the course. That’s where a major drawback of the size of the field became apparent as the first mile of the route was jammed with runners (and too many walkers). I knew the route would become easier to navigate as the field started to slow down on the Hayes Street Hill, but I didn’t want to lose too much time before that point of the race. So, I quickly moved to the left edge of the street and occasionally jumped onto the sidewalk where it was clear of spectators. Pre-hill splits of 7:35 and 7:34 vindicated my dodging and weaving strategy.
Although I had never before tackled the infamous Hayes Street Hill, all of the hill running I’ve done here in the City paid off, as I quickly motored up the race’s steepest terrain. The rest of the course is forgiving after that point–relatively flat for two miles as you enter Golden Gate Park followed by a gentle two mile downhill run to the finish. Exiting the park and turning onto the Great Highway I was flanked to my right by the eponymous Breakers while ahead of me lay the finish line. A bit of a finishing kick and I crossed in 54:32. Certainly not fast enough to compete with the elites and seeded runners, but enough to place me at number 612. A PR for me at the 12K distance which isn’t saying a lot since this was my first 12K race. But now I’ve got mark to beat for next year.
And while on the course I took some time to shoot some video which I whipped into a short video below.