This past Sunday was the Bay to Breakers (B2B for short), which for those of you who don’t live in California and/or live in a cave, is a 12K road race held annually in San Francisco. The name comes from the course which starts near the Embarcadero (the Bay), runs through Golden Gate Park and finishes at the Pacific Ocean, basically (the Breakers). This year was the 100th running, a pretty big deal – so big that for the first time ever they were giving out finisher’s medals. Cool! Chuck had never run it. I had run B2B once, over (ouch!) 30 years ago. Given all of the history-making aspects this year, we decided to check it out. Okay, there was another reason. Several years ago we were out running in Baltimore MD and met another runner who told us how he had run the Bay to Breakers naked so he’d have a really good story to tell for his 50th high school reunion. We both thought that was a hoot of an idea, and started thinking it would be a fun thing for Chuck to do for his 65th birthday, so he too could have an awesome story to tell at his 50th high school reunion (which he wants to attend). Thus an idea was born. And blabbermouth that I am, the idea was then shared with our friends who all of course wanted to come and watch.
You may be thinking, “Hey, couldn’t you get arrested for running naked?” And in any other race the answer would probably be a resounding, “Yes!!” But the Bay to Breakers is a unique race. It gave birth to centipedes (groups of people running together in a line, attached by a rope or costume) and tortilla tossing (I have no idea), and running naked is something of a hallowed tradition there dating back, from what I can gather, to the late 1970’s. There’s even a website devoted to explaining how to run naked at B2B (okay, I know: step one, take off your clothes … but there actually are some rules that it’s good to know about).
Okay, so we register, sign up for a shuttle service (since it ends in Golden Gate Park where there is no BART service and we didn’t drive up), fly up to SF and get ready for the run. Our friend Carole gave us a ride to the shuttle pick-up point in Emeryville (an Amtrak station). We knew things were going to be interesting when our bus driver couldn’t figure out how to get out of the parking lot. Then when he was on the bay Bridge and discovered the offramp he wanted to use was closed, he just stopped the bus and said, “I don’t know what to do!” OOOOOkay…. But all was well in the end: we made it to the starting corral areas and found ours. Then it was just a matter of waiting an hour for the start.
We had our first naked guy sighting right away. As we walked to our corral, a naked guy was walking along beside us. And by naked, I mean stark naked. As in, he had no clothes with him. Which was weird because our understanding was that people dropped trou right before the start – they didn’t show up naked. He sure wasn’t shy. People were taking pics and glancing his way and he seemed a-okay with it. A little TOO okay. After a while, we saw another naked guy (this other guy at lease had a bag of clothes with him). But again, it was just kind of odd. We never saw a naked woman. We did see the Bare to Breakers contingent run by in a corral ahead of our wearing their distinctive green hats (and little else), and they seemed to stick out, so to speak, a tad less. Once we actually started running, we passed a few lonely naked runners, but not many.
After the race, and the long trudge to the after-race festival called Footstock, we discussed our overall impressions of naked running and agreed that it was somewhere between lame and skeevy. So this is the official statement: Chuck will NOT be running Bay to Breakers naked. Period.
We had fun overall, and ran a pretty good race, finishing in 1:33, good enough for around 17,800th place out of 43,000 runners. The no booze and no float rule did put a bit of a kibosh on the party atmosphere of the day (though the beer garden at the finish was doing a booming business). The Footstock festival was WAY too far from the actual finish and by the time we got there we were so cold and tired that we just wanted to catch a shuttle and leave. Other fun things: people trying to explain what Zazzle (the main race sponsor) did.
So to everyone who hoped to see naked Chuck running at B2B, sorry! Your best bet now is to catch him late one night in our backyard hot tubbing!
Pics of the race are here.