So you’re running Bay to Breakers … Good for you! You didn’t just sign up to run any old 12K in San Francisco, you signed up for one of the world’s largest footraces — and arguably the most fun race around. Here are nine tips to ensure you’ll have a great time:
1. SPORT A COSTUME
The city’s sights aside, what makes Bay to Breakers most colorful is its participants. Expect to see every kind of costume imaginable — Think: aliens, clowns and superheroes — or whatever you decide to wear yourself. There’s even a costume award at the finish. Make sure your costume is comfortable to run — and linger — in, as there’s a Finish Line Festival to enjoy post-race at Ocean Beach.
2. JUICE UP YOUR CELL PHONE
With said costumes, you’ll be snapping and ‘gramming away. Plus, with thousands of people lining the course, you can text your friends if you get separated. Finally, if you’re going for time, you’ll want to fire up MapMyRun (or else it didn’t happen).
3. PREPARE TO BE CHALLENGED
The course itself is nearly 7.5 miles long, so you’ll likely be running or walking for at least an hour. You’ll also encounter San Francisco’s infamous roller-coaster hills — including legendary Hayes Hill, at Mile 2. You’ll experience an 11% pitch at the hill’s steepest point — which translates to 2/3 of a mile of heavy-duty huffing, so expect to work up a sweat.
4. STAY HYDRATED
There will be water available, though you might want to wear a running belt or carry a water bottle. The thick crowds, costumes and revelry could make your run time longer than expected. It’s important to remember: Bay to Breakers is part footrace, part party, so you’ll likely be outside in the sun for a while.
5. LAYER UP
Average San Francisco temps on race day hover in the 50s, so your run will start off cool and you’ll cool off quickly at the race finish on Ocean Beach, which is often coated in fog. During your race, the temps could rise and fall, especially as you stroll or stride through Golden Gate Park, or near the coast.
6. SLATHER ON SUNSCREEN
SPF is a no brainer for any outdoor event, and you don’t want to win the costume contest for looking like a lobster.
7. TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Unless you live within walking distance of The Embarcadero, where the race starts, plan to take public transportation (that’s BART or MUNI). With about 40,000 participants running the race and thousands more screaming along the sidelines, parking will be a nightmare. BART will open two hours early at 6 a.m., so you can get to the course early, and avoid starting in a panic.
8. PREPARE TO SEE NAKED PEOPLE
This isn’t necessarily a plus, but public nudity is still very much a thing, even though the city cracked down on it and public drunkenness in 2009. Just know you may see more than you intend, perhaps even during your morning BART ride.
9. HAVE FUN
Unless you’re an elite runner, Bay to Breakers is a race to savor rather than sprint. Enjoy the sites, costumes and good cheer — and save the PR attempt for later. Go for having your best time, instead.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN