On early Sunday, the 104th running of the Bay to Breakers event took place, although a majority of the tens of thousands of individuals participating did not feel much urgency to reach the finish line – with many of them never getting there. In name, Bay to Breakers might be a race. However, it is a 7.46-mile party in spirit.
At the race’s starting line, with music echoing off of the city’s skyscraper walls and racers tossing beach balls and tortillas, the crowd was heavy and the mood was festive. Those who were in front of the crowd had on their game faces – even those who weren’t wearing much else.
On the course, there appeared to be much sentiment, where approximately 50,000 individuals, some of them wearing a lot more clothing than others, were there to race – or at least amble starting in downtown San Francisco down to Ocean Beach for the finish.
The elite runners started the race off at 8 a.m., finishing hours ahead of the stragglers in the back. Isaac Mwangi from Kenya was the top male runner and finished the race at 35:24. Kenyan native Jane Kibii, who now resides in Auburn, was the top female finisher with a 40:04 time.
A little after noon, police started to announce that the race was done and started to herd walkers onto the sidewalks and out of the street. Arrests were made with the lingering crowd moving into the Panhandle area. Citations were issued by the police to some spectators and participants – for fighting, resisting arrest, failure to disperse and public drunkenness – while with others they posed for photographs.
On Sunday afternoon the police said there were 11 arrests at least, with three people being arrested for public intoxication.
According to race organizers, they were doing the best they could to accommodate the chaotic and messy crowd. This year extra post race trash collectors were signed up to clean up along way. There were also an extra 200 portable toilets that were added, bringing the total to 1,100, which gave residents along the race’s course some hope of their hedges and flower beds being kept safe from the full bladders of the racers.
The race this year appeared to be pretty typical in terms of the rowdy behavior, according to Irene Santillan, who for 16 years has lived in a Fell Street apartment on the race course. She also said that security personnel and the police appeared to be shutting the race down more aggressively and earlier than they had in years past.
Lots Of Alcohol
Alcohol is technically forbidden during the Bay to Breakers race. Among the racers in the front of the crowd, there were of course more Starbucks cups and Gatorade bottles than there were paper-bagged beverages and beer cans. However, there was still lots of alcohol consumed throughout the race.
Five alcohol checkpoints were operated by the police in secret locations, as they searched for walkers and runners with beer cans. Police were confiscating open containers all morning and dumping the contents into the streets.
More Sobering Centers
This year race organizers increased the capacity from 50 up to 80 at two sobering centers. According to police, these centers were voluntary, and were intended to give racers a place where they could lie down and then recover before they continued with the race or gave up and went home. Ten individuals, as of Sunday afternoon, had made use of the sobering centers, according to police.
The race definitely has a well-deserved reputation for leaning toward debauchery more than innocent festivity. However, among the revelers at the race were multi generational families and children celebrating one of San Francisco’s grand institutions.