While reading the tourist guide about California in preparation of our honeymoon, Luca discovered the race “Bay to Breakers” in San Francisco. We checked the website, the dates, we saw it was going to take place during our stay and so I subscribed to it.
For those who haven’t heard about it, Bay to Breakers is more than just a race. It is a city event. A party that has been going in San Francisco since it was first celebrated in the year 1912, partly to boost the city’s morale after 1906 earthquake. This year they celebrated 102nd edition. Bay to Breakers obtained the Guinness World Record as the largest footrace in 1986 with over 110,000 runners, while today they count with between 60 to 80 thousands. Another fun fact: it is the longest consecutively race in the world (not having changed length nor course along these 100 years).
The race is a kind of carnival, very much like the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid in New Year’s Eve. It goes from one side of San Francisco, Embarcadero (in Howard street), to the other by the Pacific Ocean, after 12 kilometres (see the map here, PDF).
The atmosphere was great, despite of the bombing in the Boston marathon having taken place just a month beforehand, for which we observed a minute of silence prior to the race in memory of the victims.
Most of the participants were wearing some costumes, perhaps more than in the San Silvestre in Madrid, as the weather is milder at this time of the year.
Not knowing the circuit nor the streets, my intention was just to run the 12 kilometres in less than 1 hour, that was the time I had indicated in order to start from one of the front corrals. In the end, I felt quite good running, even during the climb up in Hayes Street Hill I kept up running (I only needed to make a quick stop by some urinary at the 4 km :-)).
The views of the race were especially good at the beginning while running along the civic center area, where most of the cheering crowd was, and then at the Golden Gate Park, which was also the longest part of the race. However, in the final kilometres there weren’t many people cheering, which is the only weak point that I see of this race in the comparison to the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid.
Having pushed hard in the last 4 kilometres where the profile was descending to the sea-shore, finishing with a sprint after a turn by the Dutch mills of the park, I finished in 58 minutes, two minutes below my initial target. A very good experience for my first race in the USA.
One final fun fact: at some points in the race I encountered groups of runners that were somehow chained to one another. I found it strange but not so much, as I have seen runners pulling a chariot, dressing in all kinds of costumes in coordination with other runners, etc. Only after having finished, I learnt that these were centipedes!
There is a special classification for centipedes, which are teams of 13 runners attached to one another. In fact the record of the Centipedes category (LinkedIn 2012) is 36’44”, which is over 1 minute faster than the best ever women time and way faster than I would ever dream to accomplish!
P.S.: For the San Silvestre team: shall we go for centipede team next time?