Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Advice on running the Bay to Breakers

About 25* years ago I ran the Bay to Breakers, San Francisco's iconic foot-race. After a long spell not blogging, I thought the better of it and decided to start small, so here is an answer I posted to a recent question on Fluther about training for the race:

In the participatory spirit of San Francisco life, I was taken with a desire to take part in this celebration of off-beat solidarity at least once. I trained specifically for the Bay to Breakers in a month, after not running for years, by sprinting furiously up and down Bernal Heights, where I lived at the time, every day. My training was impeccably week-end warriorish, but no matter. I managed to finish the race in under an hour, and, according to the results, passed some 30,000 people in the process!!
That last statement should raise an eyebrow or two. The point is that the Bay to Breakers is less of a race and more of a melee the further back you get from the seeded runners. Although it is seven miles long, you end up running about 10 miles, most of it in a zig-zag pattern, to work your way around the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, naked extraterrestrials, rolling bondage platforms, prams carrying large hairy men, and what-not. What’s worse, I was exhausted crossing the finish line, but with 50,000 people behind me, I could not stop for another 100 yards or so!
All the above advice is good. What I would hasten to add is this: If you want to actually run it without running a challenging obstacle course, you need to be there really, really early. Only then will you be able to run about seven miles.

 *Note - in the interest of full disclosure - when I posted the original answer on Fluther, I guesstimated it was 15 years ago. After a quick nap and a Centrum, I recalculated... it was closer to 25 years ago, around 1987.