Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bay to Breakers: A Fresh Perspective

One of my very favorite yearly events in the city of San Francisco is the spring Bay to Breakers race. The event features a serious racing component, with cash prizes and competition from elite runners from all around the world. But the real attraction is always the 60,000+ other attendees, many in costume, some wearing nothing more than their shoes, all running, walking or pulling kegs of beer across this great City to their final destination of Golden Gate Park.

I ran this often-gruelling course the past two years, and walked it two years before then. This year, due to my persistent, nagging hamstring injury, I decided to volunteer as an EMT for the Red Cross. This was the best way, I believed, to be involved in the event and to help others without reaggravating the injury.

My unit of four was dispatched as a mobile team between the finish line and the Polo Grounds party. Fortunately for us, naked runners were required to cover up by the finish line, so we were spared the fat, old, bald men with flapping cellulite that is all too common at this event. The only display we saw, much to my friend and team lead Matthew's delight, was a rather perky set of breasts from a not-too-shabby-looking female.

We were very busy. Lots and lots of people with blisters, sore muscles, abrasions and bleeding wounds that needed attention. Because of the large amount of walk-up business, we ended up staying put; just downstream of the Jesus freaks on their megaphones telling us we all were sinners and were going to Hell if we didn't get over our pornography addictions.

The costumes were elaborate, the mood was happy (despite the Jesus freaks), and the sun made an appearance from behind the pre-race rain clouds. The greatest participant I saw, however, was someone who reminded me of a man I blogged about last week. This Bay to Breakers participant was just like him, in his resiliency and determination to meet his goal, despite his physical limitations.

Seven and a half miles, with a horrendously steep 12 degree grade around mile 2. And this man overcame it, complete with his cheery clown costume and his artificial leg.

Hats off to you, whoever you may be. You are my hero.

Links to my previous Bay to Breakers stories: [2005 2004 2002]


Anonymous said...

I lost your email and would love to talk to you. In fact I have some news to share with you. I hope you remember me from WW.

May 31, 2006 at 8:14:00 PM PDT  

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