Angela & Lilly
Bay to Breakers 2004

Mardi Gras in May - Largest Footrace in the World - Moving Block Party - City on the Loose
Tortilla Toss
Hundreds of tortillas flew through through the air as we joined over 75,000 runners at the starting line of the Bay to Breakers. Originally a portable pre-race snack, the tortillas make excellent frisbees and people bring bags of them to throw. At 7:30am, getting hit in the head with a tortilla definitely wakes you up.
Our Outfits
This was the first Bay to Breakers for both Lilly and me. We dressed as St. Pauli Girl/Swiss Miss/Beer Wench/Heidi/Whatever. At the shuttle pick-up point one lady thought they were the uniforms for the nearby Wendy's. The costumes turned out to be a blessing when Lilly and I got separated around Mile 2. Someone saw her looking around and said "There's someone dressed just like you down the street." In a crowd of tens of thousands, we still managed to get noticed.
Starting Line
The 7.5-mile course runs from near the Bay Bridge to the shores of the Pacific at Golden Gate Park, where waves break onto the shore (hence the name of the race). Photographers, film crews, reporters and a helicopter were on hand to capture the spectacle. We waited for half an hour for the 8am start, but it took over 5 minutes to reach the starting line.
Beer Conveyance
It's a safe bet that most of the participants walk rather than run the course. More block party than footrace, the Bay to Breakers has a different sort of pre-race carbo load. Kegs of beer are taken along, usually in decorated shopping carts. Ambitious teams create rolling bars, like the tiki bar complete with stereo and blenders. Others opt for more portable beverages, like the wine box backpack.
The costumes are what make this race unlike any other. There were so many teams I wish I had gotten pictures of - especially the salmon who start at the hill and run upstream to the starting line - but I did manage to get a few good shots, including land sharks, human sushi, and a prime sample of a popular no-costume costume.
There were countless teams who went a step beyond just dressing up. The Gropenator was popular, with huge foam hands that groped anything in its path. One team recreated San Francisco landmarks, with one noticeable twist.
A Bay to Breakers icon, the Elvis team was 45 strong this year. Their tradition is to crash the course and run with the elite runners at the start of the race, though they can only keep up the pace for about half a block. We caught up with the Elvii near the hill.
Clothing Optional
Another Bay to Breakers tradition is the lack of costume. There was a rumor that the police would be cracking down on naked runners, but we still saw plenty. Most were nothing to write home about, but a few embraced the spirit, like this body-painted team that actually ran.
Hayes St. Hill
The infamous hill looks menacing, but we really didn't think it was that big a deal. It did make for an impressive view the surge of people made their way up and over. For those with elaborate floats and bars, this must be the hardest part of the course.
Audience Participation
The spectators are as much a part of the action as the runners. Bands of all genre and ability dotted the course, and music blasted from porches and rooftops. People also turned there hoses on to help the runners cool down, though one little girl had fun blasting unsuspecting runners.
Golden Gate Park
The last third of the course goes through Golden Gate Park, taking us past soccer fields, picnic grounds, the Hall of Flowers and sleepy buffalo. Just before the park ends at the ocean I stopped to pose by the windmill. My costume transcended borders.
The end at last - a beautiful day at Ocean Beach, though from the finish line it was another half a mile to the post-race party to pick up our t-shirts and catch the shuttle home. Not a bad day for our first year out. Next year we plan to get a big group going with a cool theme - and maybe even our own rolling keg...