Friday, May 27, 2005

Bay to Breakers 2005 - A Celebration of San Francisco

Continuing with the recent theme of diversity, there is no event more colorful, more flamboyant, more San Francisco than the yearly Bay to Breakers race. A tradition that started in 1912, the event is a mixture of serious runners competing for prizes, and the general public out to have a good time. Elite athletes from all around the world compete on the same course as thousands of ordinary people, as they all make the 7.5 mile trek from the Bay to the Pacific Ocean.

Some people choose to run, others walk. Many sport costumes, ranging from the creative to the downright outrageous. Some wear nothing more than gym socks and running shoes. All money raised is given to local charities. It is an event that embodies the true spirit of San Francisco, and showcases its unique culture to the world.

This year, I wore my jester costume, the same costume I have worn in previous years. Hey, it's comfortable. I know I should probably come up with something new and original, but I haven't had any brilliant ideas yet. So a jester it is.

This is me, and my friend Matthew who volunteered with the Red Cross as an EMT for the race.

Last year, I ran this race for the first time, having previously only walked it. This year, I vowed to improve my time dramatically. My athletic ability has changed immensely since I started working with a personal trainer to prepare for the Fire Academy.

Ok, I didn't set any speed records. It took me 1 hour, 37 minutes. I couldn't make it up the dreaded, brutal Hayes Street Hill without stopping to walk. Even so, I finished a full half-hour faster than I did last year. I'd say that's a victory.

That is only a portion of the Hayes Street Hill. It extends for a full 1/2 mile at a ridiculously steep gradient. Perhaps one day I will be able tackle it running. Maybe next year. :)

And what would Bay to Breakers be without the naked people ?? Of course, it is never the young, good-looking types who choose this particular couture (or lack thereof). It's invariably the fat, old, wrinkly ones. After taking a picture of these two fine specimens, I ran past them - and vowed on my life that I would NOT look back.

It's a good thing I didn't. I think I would have been scarred for life.

This yearly event is just one demonstration of why San Francisco is world-renowned for its unique culture and widespread acceptance of personal expression. Even when the race is over, and the last stragglers have crossed the finish line, there remains a sense of community, brotherhood, and acceptance. In this fine City, and the greater Bay Area area, that feeling is sustained year-round, long after the costumes are hung in the closet for another year.

Links to my previous Bay to Breakers stories: [2004 2002]

Link to Bay to Breakers official site: [Bay to Breakers]


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