And each May, thousands more follow the runners, in costumes and completely without costumes (translation: naked), many of them intoxicated. People go as far to build floats, which they then fill with alcohol. The lazier just put kegs in shopping carts.
The world-renowned event has gone on for almost a century, and was included on Jim Caple's list of 101 things sports fans should do before they die (#84).
84. Bay to Breakers (May, San Francisco). There are many public runs across the world, but none matches this nearly century-old 12K through one of the world's most beautiful cities for sheer spectacle. As many as 80,000 runners compete in all manner of costume -- and sometimes, no clothes at all. This is San Francisco, after all.
But that tradition will be no more after a decision by the event sponsor ING, the San Francisco Police Department, and the local residents who don't want to deal with people urinating outside their doors one day a year. On other days, however, that is perfectly fine.
Two main changes will take place for this year's Bay To Breakers:
- Zero tolerance policy on alcohol. Anyone openly drinking alcohol or displaying public drunkenness will be subject to fines and prosecution.
- All wheeled objects and floats are prohibited. Inappropriate equipment on the streets is dangerous and can prevent runners and walkers from completing the race in a timely manner.
"We're still focused on the fun, vitality and unique culture of the race -- we're just removing the alcohol and the hazards. We feel that these changes will enhance the race experience for all involved," said Angela Fang, the race's general manager.
Translation: We've taken the fun out of the race for 95% of the participants.
Sadly, this event has been ruined by a few people who can't wait in line for a port-a-potty, or can't walk 10 feet over to a trash can. On the other side, the event has been ruined by a few people who can't deal with people having some fun, and event organizers who want to hold a big event but won't pony up for the expense of providing adequate facilities.
One must wonder though if the SFPD, who turn a blind eye to pretty much anything else, will really enforce this zero tolerance on alcohol given how many thousands of people fill the streets to run and watch. Whatever the result, this May 17th will not see the same event as previous years since people will at least be looking over their shoulders.
Last year was my first May in the city and first time attending Bay To Breakers, and I had looked forward to going again this year & actually doing the route instead of just having a good time and taking the above photos. Bay To Breakers is one of the things that makes San Francisco San Francisco, and it's sad to see these changes.
The end to Bay to Breakers as we know it [SFGate]