Yesterday was the annual Bay to Breakers race.
Anyone that lives in the Bay Area knows what Bay to Breakers is, but chances are if you not from around here you’ve never heard of it. I’m always at a loss when I try to describe Bay to Breakers to people, as there is really nothing like it. I have said that it is San Francisco’s version of Mardi Gras. Though the events themselves are entirely different, those of us in the city approach it with the same enthusiasm and er…fear… that I imagine is similar to how people that live in New Orleans feel about Mardi Gras. It’s like an unofficial holiday.
Officially, “San Francisco’s annual Bay to Breakers footrace is the longest consecutively run footrace in the world, dating back to 1912. The 7.46 mile (12k) route runs from Howard Street near the San Francisco Bay, continues across town, through Golden Gate Park and out to the Great Highway and the breakers at Ocean Beach. Bay to Breakers garners national attention not only for the number of participants but for the zany and satirical costumes many don. Or don’t don–nude runners are such a staple of the race that they have their own Bare to Breakers website. Outside of the naked runners, other renegades include participants dressed as salmon who run “upstream” in the opposite direction every year. Bay to Breakers is also the official site of the World Centipede Running Championships, in which 13 runners are connected together as one and are guided by an untethered “captain.”.”
Unofficially, Bay to Breakers is a 7 mile parade of drunken revelry, debauchery, chaos and massive inebriation. It is a walking fraternity party. People wake up at 6 am, put on their costumes, and start drinking. By 10 am people are shitcanned. There are floats, kegs, massive amounts of booze, naked people, and lots of crazy stuff going on. I have sung karaoke on floats, done keg stands, and participated in hula hoop contests. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and is quite frankly a total shit show.
Last year, after years and years of the city threatening that they were going to crack down on B2B, they finally did. There were still plenty of naked people and lots of crazy drunk people, but it just wasn’t the same. There were police officers everywhere, and a lot of people got in trouble for things that were previously acceptable. It was still fun, but it was different.
Bay to Breakers used to be one of the weekends I looked forward to the most, but this year, it slipped away from me. I didn’t even know that Bay to Breakers was this past weekend, and once I realized that it was Sunday, I was very apathetic towards the whole thing. Getting dressed up, waking up early, walking miles and miles… it just seemed like so much work.
For the first time since I’ve lived in San Francisco, I didn’t do bay to breakers. Instead, Kevin and I slept in, watched TV, had a late lunch, and enjoyed people watching those that were participating from our window.
I have some very fond memories of Bay to Breakers, and for my own enjoyment, I thought I would highlight some of these crazy days.
This was my first Bay to Breakers, and my friends and I dressed up like a mariachi band. My memories are somewhat hazy, but I remember an extraordinary amount of naked people, and because I found these people so hilarious, I ended up with an obscene amount of naked people on my camera. At one point a police officer came up to me and said that he was going to confiscate my alcohol and give me a ticket. I freaked out and apologized over and over and begged him not to give me a ticket. He began laughing hysterically, and I realized that he was not actually a police officer. He was just dressed up as one. Good times.
Kelsey had just moved to the city a few months prior, and our friends Katie and Jamison flew in for the weekend, just to experience that which is B2B. We found hideous leather vests and decided to be a biker chick gang. This was my first Bay to Breakers with Kevin, and he wore my red bathrobe all day long. I made a fake tattoo on my arm that said “Kevin is my bitch.”
In 2009 we were attending our friend’s Holly and Mez’s wedding in England so obviously we didn’t go. We tried to explain it to them, and they just didn’t get it. However, they were intrigued enough to plan a trip to the states the following May to check it out firsthand (and visit us, obviously. B2B was just a bonus).
We were superheros. It was the least amount of effort I have ever put into planning a B2B costume, and yet it was probably the best and most cohesive group costume we have ever had (except for Grady, who decided to be a penguin instead of a superhero). Holly and Mez (robin and superman) were in awe of the whole experience. Kevin was The Flash and Mex was superman. At one point Kevin fell over and a bunch of people started screaming Flash Down! Flash Down! It was hysterical.
Alas, I have no pictures from last year, but we just dressed up in tennis attire. It was not that original, but we had fun. We spent the night at Jesse and Lindsey’s house and made our way to the parade. Less than 15 minutes later a cop stopped us and made us empty out all of our beers. This had never happened before to any of us during B2B, so we were caught off guard. It was a taste of the crackdown to come, and we barely spent any time on the parade route, instead going back to Lindsey and Jesse’s and watching the craziness from there.
And yesterday, well, yesterday we didn’t do anything. And I’m okay with that. I’m not sure what next year has in store, but I’ve had enough B2B memories to last me for awhile.
Have you ever done to Bay to Breakers? Did you do do it this year?
P.S. Remember how I walked into the bathroom door on Friday? My entire top of my left eyelid is now black and blue. Pretty awesome.