San Francisco hosts its annual loony footrace down to Ocean Beach
THE SANTA CLARA
May 21, 2015
At 3 a.m. Sunday morning, an obscene hour to be awake, hundreds of gaudily costumed Santa Clara students were drinking, blasting EDM and piling into trains, party buses and carpools headed to San Francisco for the annual Bay to Breakers footrace.
The seven-plus mile affair has been held for over one hundred consecutive years. It begins at the Embarcadero, continues through Golden Gate Park and finishes up at the Great Highway. Although thousands of people run the race competitively, the majority of participants see Bay to Breakers as an opportunity to stagger through the city in colorful hordes.
I had a rough Saturday, so instead of pregaming, I began my morning with a cup of coffee at a Starbucks in the city. While in line, I was greeted by Darth Vader, Wonder Woman and five men in flesh colored leotards. I followed them to the race, as the caffeine accelerated my enthusiasm.
As we ventured down Ninth Street, my hopes were briefly dashed. The parade appeared to have already passed us. Instead of a sea of runners, there were street cleaners and leaf blowers that were busy moving trash around.
I was confused. So I texted my friend, Alex McCullough, to see where he was.
“I’m going with the flow,” he replied. “I’m blowing with the wind, like that Kansas song.”
I was still confused. Eventually, we turned onto Hayes Street and saw the “flow” he was caught in. Tens of thousands of people flooded the streets, all in costume, all screaming, dancing or jogging. They didn’t seem to mind the cold or the fact that it was 9 in the morning on a Sunday.
I began taking pictures. As I was framing a shot, I heard someone shout at me.
“Mime!” the voice yelled.
I turned around and saw a homeless man pointing at me. I looked down and saw my blue and white striped long-sleeve shirt and black pants. He was correct. I had accidentally dressed as a mime. I broke the one rule of my apparent profession and struck up a conversation.
“I’ve been coming for years,” said Jay, a life-long San Franciscan. “It’s good if you like to dress up. Everybody has a good time.”
I bid Jay farewell and went to further marinate in the festivities. The air smelled of spilled booze, weed and leather. Looking at all the people squeezed into tight costumes, I could only think of the inevitable chafing.
After three miles of the race, I had seen my fill of tan wrinkly scrotums, so I decided to head back to Santa Clara.
The party continued on the CalTrain, despite everyone’s exhaustion. About an hour into the trip, I looked over and found a fluorescent leotard giving a half-hearted handjob to a banana costume.
That was interrupted when the train engineer announced we had to stop because of a fatal accident further down the line. Stranded in Redwood City, I begged my brother to drive an hour round trip to pick me up. He did it, but not before a hearty guilt trip.
When I got back to campus, I napped for three hours. When I woke up, 8th floor Swig was abuzz about the day.
“It was great,” said freshman Quinn Mitruka, “Everyone just seemed super happy. I’ll definitely go back next year.”
It was cold, loud and early, but it was San Francisco at its most San Francisco. Maybe next year, I’ll dress up on purpose.
Contact Jimmy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org .