Bay to Breakers’ Costumes Crazy as Always
If someone asked me to get up early in the morning to watch a twelve kilometer race with them, there wouldn’t be a doubt in my mind when I told them, “No way, José!” But with completely crazy costumes and a fun party vibe, the Bay to Breakers race is a fun way to spend the day, so waking up ridiculously early becomes totally worth it.
Bay to Breakers, originally named the Cross City Race, was first held in 1912. It was initially created to raise the morale of San Franciscans throughout the reconstruction that followed the 1906 earthquake. Since then, the race has grown, from 186 participants to 22,984 registered runners in 2012.
The day of the 101 Annual Bay to Breakers race dawned with clear skies and a soft breeze; there couldn’t have been more perfect weather for a race. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) was crowded with people on their way to the race, going all out in what was definitely not their normal clothes. The excited energy was tangible in the packed train as people chatted and laughed with one another.
There are several types of people who go to Bay to Breakers. There are the serious runners who are in it to win it, those who walk around and have fun with their friends, and then there’s the people who go completely all out and get crazy.
It’s the second two categories of people who in some cases use this day as an opportunity not only for a second Halloween, but also as a place to day-drink.
This year, however, the police were taking this issue very seriously, with a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol. Despite their efforts, there was still plenty of drinking present and nineteen alcohol-related arrests were made; an increase from 2010 when less than a dozen Bay to Breakers participants were detained.
Costumes are an essential part of what makes Bay to Breakers so fun, not only for racers but also for spectators of the race. The first costumed participant, coincidentally the last runner to cross the finish line, made his appearance in 1940 as Captain Kidd. People were inspired after that year, and costumes became a part of the unique Bay to Breakers experience. I was truly amazed by the ingenuity of the outfits people put together this year, things I could never have even imagined were present on the racecourse Sunday. From the three “pink brides” (3 men dressed in wedding dresses with huge pink wigs), to a pair of bananas, to someone in a full body zebra suit with a pink tutu, the array of costumes at Bay to Breakers was extraordinary.
However, Bay to Breakers should not just be seen as one big twelve kilometer party: the first-place winner is awarded $25,000 in prize money.
This year the winnings went to Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia, closely followed by three-time Bay to Breakers champion Sammy Kitwara from Kenya. Opportunities for winning money are not just available for the fastest runners however. Zazzle, the official sponsor of Bay to Breakers, holds a costume contest every year with five very unique categories: the Be-Zazzled Costume (most innovative use of any aspect of “Z” the letter, the sound, or the Zazzle logo), iCostume (best way of incorporating technology or a tech theme), Most Creative-Individual, Best Overall-Individual, Best Overall-Group. The winning costumes included a group dressed as characters from the board game Clue and ten people dressed as different San Francisco neighborhoods. The winner of each of these categories receives prize money between $50-$1000, which is a decent chunk of money, but in reality it probably costs the participants at least that much to make the costume.
All in all, Bay to Breakers was a great way to spend the day out and in the sun, and I can’t wait to go again next year!