Bay to Breakers: Some Met-Coverage
Top O’the Post Update: Per most predictions, a Kenyan man won the race – his time? 34 minutes, 49 seconds. Sweet Jeezus, that’s a tad over 4:30/mile. Peter Gilmore was the first American man to finish at 37:46. Moroccan Asmae Leghzaoui took the top women’s slot in 38:22 and Los Angeleno Sylvia Mosqueda came in 3d among women in 40:15. Fifty-thousand registered runners and an estimated 20,000 additional participants comprised the field.
Getting up early to run on Saturdays is bad enough – on Sundays it’s just . . . unholy. But after 3 years of NorCal life without participating in the infamous spectacle that is Bay to Breakers, it seemed time. Here’s the breakdown:
6:20am – I and my equally sleepy roomie board the N-Judah “express” to the start line along Howard.
6:40am – We arrive at the start line and realize we are there WAY too early since the race doesn’t start until 8am. There’s music. And plenty to look at, however, even way up front in the Team start area which really was, as promised, right behind the Kenyans. Between us and them were the seeded and subseeded runners, the seeded centipedes (a Chevy’s team in sombreros; what appeared to be some kind of Pussycat Dolls type group), and a few others. Behind us, a mob of talk radio team members seemed less deserving of the front-of-the-pack status. I’m sure some where runners, but many seemed to be just in it for the pole position.
7:00am – Tortillas in the wind, on the ground, in my hair . . . . . It’s all in the wrist . . . .
7:25am – The most annoying “team” shows up. They’re in pink shirts sporting a typically “ooh, how random and sexy” quote and the name of their product. Or service. Or? Wait, what the hell are you people advertising? I finally asked a member of said “team.” They don’t care about running. Or what they’re advertising, they “just wanted to start up front.” Fine, but when you’re carrying backpacks, etc, I know you’re not running, which means if you get between me and a PR, I will have you killed. What they should’ve done was grab the team from Berkeley’s Haas Business School and asked them how to better market their shit. Obtuse advertising is fine. Obtuse to the point where I can’t actually investigate your goods or services is a waste. No website. No number. No address. No nuthin’. Oh, I know what it is now. But on principle, I refuse to pimp their shit for them when they can’t even do it themselves. We here at metroblogging have nothing against promotion, but we can’t respect bad crappy marketing.
8:00am – Annnnnnnndddd . . . .We’re Off! Like a prom dress! There were many of those running. And more than a few runaway brides (perhaps a few real ones). Superheroes galore. And apparently, a huge ‘fro wig qualifies as a “costume.” For anyone who’s run a race, you are familiar with that goofy, bobbing up-and-down shuffle that starts the run. But after a few yards, most of us were able to break free and start hauling ass (some of us even fully-clothed ass) up Howard toward 9th. Beer drinking fans lined most of the SOMA section of the course . . . . and the rest of the race in general.
8:10am – Mile 1. For me, a great start, but if I don’t slow down, I’ll be dead by mile 4.
8:17am – Somewhere in Hayes Valley – the sweetest site on the whole course – a man on the right holding a sign reading “Marry Me, Wendy (the other girls meant nothing).” Romantic and funny. Wendy, I hope you said yes. And still finished the race weighed down by a phat rock.
8:20am – Mile 2. Dammit, slow down!
8:23am- The Mythical Hayes Street Hill. Lots of fans, a few bands, lots of cheering, good morale boost as the elevation slowly turns most of our legs to tree trunks longing to root in one place and stop. Toward the crest of the hill, my vote for best costumed centipede – a team of Salmon, running towards us, naturally. (Get it! F-ing brilliant). Over the hill, I throw caution and valuable knee cartilage to the wind and kick it up a few notches on the downhill. The panhandle is nice – but the ever-so-slight incline burns my calves as I hit my cranky miles – usually from 2.5 to 3.5.
8:47am – Mile 3. That fast start – and Hayes Street – begins to exact its toll. Entering the park, it crosses my mind that in about a half a mile or so, I’ll be dangerously close to home, a warm shower, bed . . . . The park course features more bands – about every quarter-mile it seems. I’m glad I brought my own water with me since each water station is a water hazard, with runners darting perpendicularly across the street and others long-jumping across the discarded red coke cups. I stick left and hope not to fall. The volume or runners is thinner than it was through Hayes and Fell – but still high. As I pass or am passed by nude male runners, I’m glad I don’t have really keen peripheral vision. Ick. I mean, I’m not a man, but, well, doesn’t that chafe? Or just flop uncomfortably? Seriously, no one wants to see that. In fact, on the whole of the course, I saw one younger guy who could almost rock the nekkid-running – but as solid as his legs were, there is just no way for anyone to get his ass tight enough to not creep me out during a race. On the other hand, I did feel like applauding the few naked women I saw during the race. Though it was clear they didn’t have balls, they did.
9:00am – Mile something-or-other. A shameless self-promoter runs past with the words “MBA GRAD FOR HIRE” on his shirt. Unlike idiot pink-shirted people from the start, he includes an email address that was either email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or maybe it was .com or there was no space. I dunno. But I support shameless self-promotion, so I wish him well.
9:10:33am – Mile 5. Holy Crap – I might hit a PR after all – with 2.46 miles left, I’m ahead of where I thought I’d be back at mile 3 or so. Let me pause here to say – I know I’m slow. But as the 16 min mile kid in junior high who had more “doctor’s notes” than you’d believe, I still feel accomplished. Plus, I’m marathon training – it’s not the speed so much as the consistency. By this point, you can feel the energy increase again as folks realize they’re almost done and people like me realize they better not slack now or that record is lost. I know somewhere, a few miles behind me, the real spectacle is going on – more creative costumes, more tortillas, more beer, more fun, even. But right now, it’s me and my mile time, mano a, er, clocko. The closer we get to the finish, the more dodgems take place as runners weave around those who’ve slowed considerably.
9:somethingam – Mile 6. No split clock. In about half a mile, my iPod will crap out, and I’ll be left timeless with a lot of ground to cover. There are quite a few naked guys and some all-but-naked indians wielding hatchets running around, darting in and out of the pack. Please sirs – keep all those items far, far from me . . . . The park trees start to shrink to smaller pines, the pines give way to brush, and the brush blends into sand as we exit the park, turn left onto the Great Highway, and lay eyes on the prize: the finish line, about a quarter-mile away.
9:26:09am – Mile 7.46, or, if you prefer round numbers, Kilometer 12. After running as fast as I’m capable of at that point, I cross the finish line, shaving a neat 2:58 off my personal record – averaging a tad over 11:30 per mile. All in all – I’m quite pleased.
Heading up the Great Highway toward the photo-ops, water stations, and Muni, I pass one last group – cross-generational group – of naked runners. All told, it’s safe to say I saw more penises today than … oh hell, any comparison is going to make my mom freak out and me sound bad – so let’s just go with – ick, lots of penises for a Sunday morning.
Congrats to everyone who finished the race. If you have photos or stories to share, please comment below or email them in. I’d love to know what the back-of-the-pack was like.
And if anyone knows Wendy or if she said yes . . . . .