May 15 – Bay to Breakers Race

Posted on May 15, 2016

It's billed as the oldest footrace in America. But the 12-kilometer route from the San Francisco Bay to Ocean Beach (which of course has "Breakers," as in waves) is actually the longest- consecutively-run footrace in the WORLD!

(Other races have skipped years or changed courses or changed lengths over time.)

It's billed as a race built by the people. It was first started as a way to lift the spirits of the city of San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake.

Once the tradition got going, people kept it up. During World War II, few people came out for the race--fewer than 50. Still, some people came every year, even then, and so the tradition continued. The 1986 race set a world record for the largest footrace, with 110,000 racers. Nowadays some 30 to 40 thousand participants register every year, and many more thousands walk behind the runners, swelling the number of participants to 50,000 to 80,000.

Since 1912, over 1.8 million racers, many of them costumed, have run the Bay to Breakers Race.

According to the official website,  that 1.8 million has included runners, walkers, and centipedes.


Well, remember that some participants choose to dress in costumes. We're talking Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider Man, unique characters like this pink gorilla...

The centipedes are not people dressed up as the arthropods, as you might suppose. Instead, there is a special division of the race called “centipedes.” Thirteen runners run together while being tethered. The leader of the pack is called the Head Pede. An untethered fourteenth runner is allowed to run alongside the centipede; he or she can help pace the runners and can sub in if someone has to drop out.

This division is very competitive. Really good running teams such as University of California track teams sometimes participate in this division!

Check out a few more costumes: 

Salmon who run “upstream”...
"I Dream of Jeannie" genies
Before and after the race there are parties and a festival!

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