Sunday, May 16, 2010

Today's 8 mile walk - Bay to Breakers

At our gathering of friends last night, one happened to mention the Bay to Breakers race today, from the San Francisco Embarcadero to the ocean. Susan had Long Walk written on the calendar for today, and that sounded like a good fit. Only problem was that we should be at the start around 8:30, and the last guest left shortly before 11pm. We left it as a maybe, so this am I nudged Susan about 6:30 and proposed my plan - leave the house no later than 8, be at BART by 8:20, and at race start between 8:30 and 9. Agreed, provided I get up immediately and not wake her till 7:10.

All connections worked out and we arrived in SF about 8:20. BART was jammed, streets were packed, tortillas flying all over like frisbees, and we joined the crowds inching towards the starting line, which we reached about twenty minutes later. Fun though.

This is not a normal race. Some 100,000 people take part, many in some sort of wild costume, vast quantities of beer consumed, plenty of naked people, and us, in our normal hiking dress. The crowd surges around us. Spectators line the streets, porches, and hang out of windows. They have the better view. We just see the craziness around us. The spectators constantly get a new view. Every time we pass a band the crowd thickens and slows as people dance. There is some rule that as an opening constricts, the flow gets proportionally faster, but that doesn't work here. Free will frustrates the laws of physics.

The porta potties are mobbed - about a twenty minute wait on the one Susan tried. Later ones had a better system - one line, multiple facilities. While waiting, I watched the crowd pass by. The fog was still hanging over the city and it was chilly, but that didn't stop the clothing optionals. They did move pretty fast though.

There is a long uphill - Hayes Street that seemed to be party central - an excuse to slow down.

The race course is 7.5 miles, but by the time we got near the end, the runners were long gone, and the last 1/2 mile was blocked off, so we detoured around, extending our walk to eight miles. Checked out the Beach Chalet, and then bypassed the express special $10 buses back and took the local for seventy five cents.

I didn't take many pictures, but Susan got some good ones. Check out Susan's article and be sure to scroll through her slide show at the bottom. It is slow, but worth it.

1 comment:

  1. I love Bay To Breakers. It's a great San Francisco event. My wife and I walked the entire length many years ago but these days we take it easy and have fun people-watching and clicking the camera away. We usually turn around at Alamo Square and spend the rest of the time listening to the bands perform. It was cold this year but still it was a lot of fun.