This ain’t RunDisney, but that’s OK. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew going in it was not going to be a wholesome experience. It was, however, a blast. It had all the positivity of a RunDisney race, with a heaping helping of mischief thrown in. This is a bit of a long post, but there was a lot to see.
Our experience started with the Greater Body Expo. I was not too impressed with the expo, but then again, I am admittedly no nutrition nut. Much of the items at the expo were along those lines. After an extra mile walk or so back to our hotel (we forgot our bibs, which were required to pick up a shirt), we got our t-shirts so we could avoid the lines at the finish. But really, most folks don’t run the Bay To Breakers for the expo experience.
After spending the previous day in wine country, we got up early and headed to the start line in our super-hero finest. They were expecting 30,000 runners, so we headed out a bit early for the 7 am start. Surprisingly, getting into the corrals went perfectly smoothly. We got to our corral about 30 minutes before the start and met up with some of my wife’s friends.
I think I may have pulled a neck muscle looking around while waiting in the corral. It was a people watcher’s dream. We got to see all the other runners making their way to the other corrals in every kind of costume you could imagine: from simple to elaborate, fully covered to fully naked. I expected to see some folks au naturale, but I saw more than I bargained for. It was funny to see how those going sans clothes really didn’t care who saw them. They really embraced it. I found this out right away. I was snapping a picture of my wife’s friend trying to surreptitiously get a gentleman in the background. He obliged by stepping in for the photobomb, and even posed for a pic with my wife and her friend. I will spare you the posed picture, but you get the point from the “photobomb.”
One other tradition in the starting corrals is the tossing of tortillas. They were flying around by the hundreds. The fly surprisingly well, but act like banana peels on the ground after being trod upon by thousands of runners.
Following a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings, we were on our way. Just as getting into the corrals went smoothly, so too did the start. We were in corral C, and things moved quickly toward the start. Next thing we knew, we were on our way up Howard Street, knowing that Hayes Street Hill awaited at Mile 2.
As the run began, there was certainly an air of celebration about the race. The spectators were great, and our fellow runners were a moving party. One gentleman even ran with us for a bit to share an off color joke about Superman and Wonder Woman, and the Invisible Man.
Those around my age remember the show “Full House,” and the iconic shot of the row houses in San Francisco in the opening of that show. Until I signed up for this race, I was not sure where those houses were. Ever since I found out they were at the top of Hayes Street Hill, I had been looking forward to seeing them in person. Usually, I would be dreading a hill that rises about 200 feet in a little over a half mile. Not so much this time. I was looking forward to seeing the legendary Hayes Street Hill party.
As we neared the top of Hayes Street Hill, we met the famous Salmon centipede group. Each year, this group (tied together like all centipede entrants) starts at the finish line and runs upstream to the start line. They were already on mile 6 when we hit mile 2.
Hayes Street Hill lived up to its reputation. The excitement of the spectators was awesome, and really motivated the runners. I am sure there were thousands who never even made it past Hayes Street Hill, instead deciding to stay for the party.
Not us though. The good thing is that it was all down hill from here. We plodded on toward Golden Gate Park. Along the way we saw Elvis, the running of the bulls, more super heroes, ballerinas, fairy tale characters, more naked folks, and even a tree. I was quite impressed with the tree. This outfit had to be heavy, and it had the history of the tree in Bay To Breakers on the back. Best I could tell, the tree was going on 30+ years of appearing in the race. The bands along the course were great as well.
We meandered through Golden Gate Park and headed toward the finish. At about mile 6, my calf muscle decided it was done. After a short break to try to convince it otherwise, we entered the home stretch. I really like the last couple of miles of this race: Down hill, shady, tree lined, even a waterfall. For us first timers, the last corner is great, as you leave Golden Gate Park and suddenly the beach appears. It is truly a gorgeous finish.
We made it to the breakers. It was a bit chilly for a dip for me, but that did not discourage a lot of others. We made our way through the finish area. I had a flight to catch, so we did not get to hang around much. We made our way to the shuttle back to the start line. I could only imagine how “fragrant” the shuttles got as the day wore on.
On the way back, we saw throngs of people in costume. They were not part of the race, but were making their way to Hayes Street Hill for the party that would last all day. We all thought that if we were a bit younger, we, too, would be heading to Hayes Street. But reality set in, and I headed for the hotel to get a shower. My flight home awaited.
There is no bling to show, as they did not give out medals this year. However, I will go away with a lot of great memories of this run. It was really a blast. Check another off the bucket list.