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How To Win Bay To Breakers

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During my first Bay to Breakers in San Francisco some 7 years ago, I was lucky enough to witness a scene that changed my life forever. I saw Superman shamelessly hitting on Princess Jasmine and getting her phone number, then I saw Superman’s girlfriend (dressed as Wonder Woman) come out of nowhere and begin scolding Superman violently and then beating him with her Lasso of Truth, prompting him to retreat while covering his head. I thought, where else in the world would I get to see the domestic squabbles of my childhood heroes? There aren’t many costumes at the NYC Marathon, and there isn’t nearly enough beer at San Diego’s Comic Con to inspire superhero love triangles. Bay to Breakers is a 12k foot race to some, but to most, it is a 4 hour tour of the city and one of the biggest and most fun parties of the year.  Here are the guidelines to WINNING the legendary 103 year old event.

1. Wear A Costume

Eat a solid breakfast, wear comfortable shoes, stay hydrated, and most importantly, wear an awesome costume. Bay to Breakers is the Halloween of athletic events, have you ever been to an awesome Halloween party without a costume?  Yeah, it’s like that.  You can watch the fun or you can be part of the fun.  Better yet, get your friends to do it with you.  Nothing takes the edge off looking ridiculous like looking back and seeing that your friend is totally on board

Full disclosure, your costume does not have to be awesome, but it would be a lot cooler if it was

2. Bring Your Own Cup

Yes, this means putting your favorite beverage inside a neutral container like a Nalgene bottle.  You can drink bottles of beer on the street if you enjoy pouring them into the gutter for police officers.  But if you have your own container you can drink whatever you like, as well as fill up at that insane panhandle party you stop at.

Open containers can make for sad bears

3. Run Real Slow

photo: businesswire

Or better yet, walk.  You’ve got a lot of ground to cover, and the odds of you beating a handful of skinny, fast people are slim. If The Princess Bride taught you anything it’s never get involved in a land war in Asia, and never challenge an Ethopian to a foot race. Seriously, Tolossa Gedefa runs like a gazelle.  You will not win B2B thinking like a rabbit, you are far better off as a tortoise, or better yet dressed like one.

Last year Tolossa Gedefa may have crossed a finish line first

But the turtles had a WAY better time doing it.  Aesop was no fool.

4. Make Friends With People Who Live On The Race Route

If you don’t already know someone who lives near the panhandle, then you are not thinking strategically. Having 1 or 2 places to pee along the course is a very valuable commodity.  I’ve seen money exchanged and favors granted between perfect strangers for the privilege of using their bathroom. I’ve also seen people get drenched by the garden hose of angry residents for peeing on their driveways. Perpetrators beware!

 Don’t be like Elvis, make a friend with a bathroom, or find a porta-potty.  The #1 thing pissing-off local residents and city workers…is your piss.

5. Know Your Watering Holes

The good samaritans at

6.  Cell-Phones, They Will Betray You

A lot of the time phones will not work because of the 100 thousand racers overwhelming the cell towers. So make up a rendezvous point with your friends, if it’s not someone’s house along the route, then make it a cross street like Lyon and Fell St. The only thing guaranteed on Bay 2 Breakers is that YOU WILL get separated from your friends at some point.

7. Alamo Square Park Is CLOSED This Year

Yup, the race organizers have to take something away from us every year, last year it was backpacks, and this year it’s the park at Alamo Square.  Frowny face. They already took our floats, moved our start time, and banned parties in Golden Gate Park.  What’s next you ask?? Who cares! No amount of restrictions can stop San Francisco from having a good time, onward and upward!  Don’t meet at Alamo this year, it will be fenced off: Alamo Square Online

8. Prepare Yourself For The Odd Naked Person

SF Supervisor Scott Weiner made public nudity illegal in 2012, EXCEPT for in certain ‘appropriate’ times. B2B is one of those sanctioned times, the exhibitionists will be out!

9.  Have Fun With Complete Strangers

Psssst… people with amazing costumes are usually pretty amazing, when’s the last time you made friends with a pinata or made-out with a mermaid?  Did you ever have a beer with Bender or dance with Kermit the frog?  Let your hair down, this is San Francisco, and better yet it’s Bay to Breakers.


photo: bleacherreport

10. Have An Exit Strategy

Make sure to remember where you live, that’s number one. Number two: have a clue as to how public transportation works because getting a cab may be difficult. Number three: Stop being a weenie and come to the after party. B2B house parties are a sloppy mess but a great deal of fun.

Number four, don’t pass out under a tree that was urinated on 4,000 times that morning

Photos courtesy of Flickr, businesswire,,, & yours truly

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor and co-owner of this little expiriment. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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