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Bay To Breakers brings out the weird and the wonderful

Tens of thousands of people came out to run in the San Francisco's Bay To Breakers footrace.
Tens of thousands of people came out to run in the San Francisco's Bay To Breakers footrace.
- by Rem O'Donnelley

The unique pageantry of the city was in full force Sunday for the wild ride that is the Bay To Breakers footrace. People came from near and far for colorful event that is one of the largest parties in San Francisco.

People who have seen the event will remember it. If a person has never attended or seen photos from it then people would say it is loud, has music, dancing, people in all types of interesting outfits and some outside of the box thinking for some different costumes. They would also say that some people had no costumes or clothes on.

While seeing a naked person at a street festival in the city is almost a given, the reactions are not predictable. Some walk by unfazed, some are shocked and move away, some laugh and some get out their camera to take a photo. Dan (who didn't want to use his last name) who describes himself as a nudist, travels from Fort Worth, Texas each year to enjoy this event. While he attends some clothing optional places in Texas, he has never found anything like Bay To Breakers and keeps coming back to enjoy the footrace. Waiting for the race to begin people were taking photos of his rear as well as some posing for a picture with him.

Jun Yang and his wife came from the South Bay to see their Bay To Breakers. “I heard it's famous, so I wanted to come out and watch it at least for once in my life, maybe more,” he said.

While many would agree with his reason, some would also understand his wife's decision. Asked if they heard about the naked runners they laughed and she said, “that's the reason I'm here.”

Standing on the other side of a barrier from runners before the race was volunteer Alvin Erskine of Redwood City. He was enjoying picking up the tortillas that landed near him and throwing them back into the crowd. Corn tortilla tossing is an old tradition at the race and participants enjoy sending tortillas hurtling through the air like Frisbees.

There was almost 40,000 runners registered for the event but many participants did not have numbers. There were guesses that the number could be 50,000 or higher with the unregistered runners. In some years the numbers of unregistered nearly equaled the numbers of registered runners according to a WSJ article.

Down the course at Hayes and Market there was a small crowd waiting for the runners. In the crowd were two pigs or people in pig suits without bib numbers. They were wearing orange safety vests as they had trouble seeing through the eye holes.

This was their first time at the event and they said they had walked the course early to this location to avoid the huge crowds. “We were going to bring signs that said, 'Make bacon not war' but we forgot the signs. We were also going to hand out bacon to the runners but unfortunately Costco was closed by the time we had that idea,” Andrew Piggy (the name he gave) said.

This was the 28th year in a row that Katie Villegas of Sacramento has entered the race. Wearing a Wonder Woman outfit she said she comes for the fun of it and sometimes in costume, sometimes not. There was one participant's outfit that stuck in her mind, “the guy with the scissors and morph suit going around giving vasectomies,” she said.

The swimming salmon were a big hit with runners and participants alike. The runners dressed as salmon start at the end of the course and run to the start, swimming upstream. Running at 9th and Market they were giving high fives to runners heading the traditional direction. “I really liked them swimming upstream, that was very creative and clever,” spectator Tony Lehdio said.

While there were arrests for public drunkenness, there was one arrest that stood out. A TV station in San Francisco reported a naked man was arrested after he was found in the bison paddock in Golden Gate Park and that's no bull.

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