At least 18,000 booze bags, costumed loons, and even the occasional serious jogger turned out for the first bay to Breakers since 2019 Sunday, and SFist captured a trove of images of the day’s prime silliness.
The annual and annually very rowdy Bay to Breakers footrace returned on Sunday, after two consecutive COVID-19 cancellations in the previous two years. And a pandemic-weary San Francisco populace busted out its onesies and open containers to heartily welcome the race back, so SFist hit the racecourse and got images of the day's most amusing proceedings and drunken shenanigans.
KTVU estimates that 18,000 people registered for the race, though hedges their attendance estimate by saying “Bibs were mailed out to more than 15,000 people for those who signed up to run prior to May 6,” and also gives the estimate of “More than 10,000 runners” participating in Sunday’s race.
And, obviously, a lot of people crashed the race without bibs.
"While the numbers will be smaller this year than they were in 2019, the space we're utilizing for the start corral is the same,” Charlie Mercer, CEO of the race’s new organizer Capstone Event Group, told KTVU. “It will be a more spread-out start corral. Once the race starts, people spread out a bit more."
But yeah, about that new organizer Capstone Event Group… racers were shocked by last week’s late-breaking news just days before the race that Capstone’s chair and founder is a right-wing Trumper straight out of the stone age, and has given thousands of dollars to the Trump campaign and other infuriatingly racist and homophobic congressional Republicans. We did not see any costumes satirizing or addressing this, and the number of crashers who refused to buy bibs seemed the same as in any year.
As the Chronicle notes, it was "the first time an American man and woman have won the race since 1981.” San Diego resident Reid Buchanan was the first across the finish line at 36 minutes and 10 seconds, SF’s Julia Vasquez won the women’s category with 42 minutes and 5 seconds time, and 25-year-old SF schoolteacher Cal Calamia was the first-ever nonbinary category winner at 47 minutes and 3 seconds.
The Chronicle also reports that “By the finish line, the smell of marijuana was very present.”
You may be a little freaked out seeing crowds sized this large during a possible COVID outbreak relapse, and that’s fair. But the event was outdoors, and as a Chronicle piece noted last week, large outdoor events are much safer than even small indoor events.
Some grown men came as Disney princesses...
One of the few floats was this hand-hoisted pirate ship. It was unclear if there was any booze in there, but it did have speakers!
It was frankly inspiring, and gave you a “nature is healing” vibe to see the long-missed sight of costumed revelers all the way up Hayes Hill.
Alamo Square Park was completely gated off to prevent the drunks from coming in and trashing the place, and a private security firm was confiscating people’s booze in that area too. Barriers on many of the residential areas on the Hayes and Divisadero Street stretches to minimize the impact of the partiers.
But on the flip side, there seemed to be a higher prevalence of group-costumed families with kids in this year’s race.
Whether it was out of pent-up demand for events, or the work of a different new marketing campaign, this year’s event seemed to attract more families.
And check out these young entrepreneurs monetizing the drunken idiots descending on the neighborhood.
This individual had another idea for monetizing the drunken idiots in the Panhandle area.
As usual, there were dozens of nude participants. And also as usual, these people skewed toward 50 years old and (much) older.
But the new race operator frankly did have this thing better organized, and with more fun features, than previous Bay to Breakers organizing regimes.
The mile-marker signage was more clever, funny, and inspired than it had been in previous years, with a solid array of topical jokes.
Organizers did have a very strict screening process at the start line, which lead to long lines and backlogs. The enhanced security was probably a good idea considering the weekend’s mass-shooting in Buffalo, and security checked bags’ contents, though still allowed unregistered runners to just walk right in. The Chronicle notes that there was one person was shot near the course Sunday morning, but “the incident did not appear related to the run."
Start times were staggered, so even if you staggered to the start line 30 or 45 minutes late, you still got to be in a corral that got a proper announced countdown and race start.
We hate to say it about the new race operator that has MAGAs in high places, but Capstone Event Group showed themselves to be far more competent than previous years’ organizers. The hooliganism was well-contained and never felt out of control, and the finish line was very well-managed with its t-shirt, finisher's medal, and beer garden operations. The news about their board chair’s political leanings probably came too late to affect registration this year, but it will be interesting to see next year’s Bay to Breakers discourse and registration patterns now that information has been laid bare.
Images: Joe Kukura, SFist