There’s a tradition here in San Francisco that occurs the third Sunday of every May. It’s the Bay to Breakers race, which just celebrated it’s 99th running. For those of you that don’t live in the Bay Area, the Bay to Breakers race is a 12K run that begins close to the Embarcadero (Bay), cuts through the heart of the city, through Golden Gate Park and out to Ocean Beach (Breakers). What began as a celebration of San Francisco’s resiliency in the face of natural disaster (the 1906 earthquake) the race is now a celebration of athleticism and creativity.
You see, the Bay to Breakers run isn’t your average 12K run. Yes, it’s a race, but it’s also much more than that. You can run it, you can walk it, you can get dressed up with your closest friends and have a costume party or you can ride by on a float. You can decide not to run and cheer participants on from the sidewalk, or grab some kind of instrument and encourage that way. There’s no real rule here other than to enjoy yourself.
Originally, I was supposed to “run” this with a group of Ninja friends (I even had a ninja name, Hideaki Dragon), but a massive allergy attack prevented me from completely joining in the fun (which was a huge bummer, considering the amount of time spent on working out the costumes). But since I live close to the Park, I walked out in the middle of the race and enjoyed some pretty impressive people watching.
I saw people in their bedroom slippers, women running in pink to support breast cancer awareness, moms and dads with their tots in strollers, pink flamingos, the Justice League, Mad Hatters, Egyptians, Elvis (make that Elvi), human caterpillars, hobos, jailbirds, pirates, frat boys, women on their way to the spa (they were in towels, clay masks and sporting loofahs), cowboys, storks, Little Red Riding Hood, people with lobster hats, bananas, Dalmations, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a gingerbread man, cheerleaders, people in wagons, Lady Liberty, He-Man, skeletons, The Navi from Avatar, swimmers, nuns and priests, people who didn’t dress up as anything other than what they decided to put on that morning and a bunch of naked people (painted and, well, just letting it all hang out there). But this crazy race (unofficially billed as the largest rolling house party) in it’s own way sums up what I love so much about this city. You can be whomever you want to be here and no one is going to point a finger at you or judge you. They’re far more likely to give you a high five and pass along a beer. You wanna be athletic? Go for it! Hope you win! You wanna dress up in a pink gorilla costume and run a little over seven miles? Awesome! More power to ya buddy!
If you find yourself wondering how you can get more mileage out of your Halloween costume next year, I strongly suggest you make a date with SF in May. You’ll fit in right and be very welcome here!
Until next week (and my next obsession)!
Graphics by: Michelle
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