Bay to Breakers 2024: An anything-goes party where many had fun and a few came to run

Runners gather at the starting line on Howard Street in San Francisco for the annual Bay to Breakers race on May 19, 2024. Thousands participated in this year’s race, which for many was an opportunity to party and wear colorful costumes — or nothing at all. (J.L. Odom/Bay City News)

IT’S A RARITY for a party to start at 8 a.m., particularly one that draws thousands of people. But that’s just what happened on Sunday morning in San Francisco, with the iconic Bay to Breakers getting underway on Howard Street near the Embarcadero.

Participants took to the streets early Sunday for the popular 12K (7.456-mile) race, which dates back to 1912. The long-standing race welcomes competitive runners but also anyone looking to get in some fun, whether solo or with friends, running or walking — with a dress code of “anything goes.”

Costumes at this year’s run party included dinosaurs, unicorns, butterflies, roosters, cows and condiments; Dr. Seuss “Thing 1s, 2s, and 3s;” BART trains; Where’s Waldos with red-and-white striped shirts and beanies; bunches of bananas and grapes, along with other fruit; plus chefs, including several Guy Fieris, who donned the restaurateur’s flame shirt, visor, sunglasses and spiked hair look.

Many decided to wear their Bay to Breakers 2024 lavender, long-sleeve race shirts. A fair share of pastel and neon tutus were also in the mix, and, of course, it wouldn’t be Bay to Breakers without some folks opting to walk or run the course in the nude.

Chloe Morizono (center) stands with friends at the Bay to Breakers finish area on the Great Highway in San Francisco on May 19, 2024. It was the second B2B race for Morizono, who ran it with members of the running club she founded called Queer Run SF. (J.L. Odom/Bay City News)

Of the centipedes — a 40-plus year Bay to Breakers tradition involving a team of 13 to 15 runners or walkers tied together with a bungee cord — standouts included the Painted Ladies, San Francisco’s iconic row of houses on Steiner Street, and park rangers. There was also a wayward sandworm or two from the sci-fi classic “Dune.”

Climbing ‘The Hill’

Another quintessential component of Bay to Breakers — as it’s part of the course — is “Hayes Street Hill,” a notoriously steep climb around mile 2.5. Some might describe it as brutal; others, like Bay to Breakers participant Chloe Morizono, perceived it as “fun.”

“I think a lot of us picked up the pace on Hayes hill because, at first, you’re kind of navigating through all the people who are just there to party. And then once you see that challenge, the race energy kicks into full force. We ran it as fast as we could, and then for the rest of it, it was all downhill,” said Morizono, founder of the San Francisco-based run club Queer Run SF.

“I think a lot of us picked up the pace on Hayes hill because, at first, you’re kind of navigating through all the people who are just there to party. And then once you see that challenge, the race energy kicks into full force.”

Chloe Morizono, Bay to Breakers participant

The club meets in the Panhandle on a weekly basis, on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., for a group run.

“I’ll just find them at the end,” said runner Joyce Luna of her 14 friends participating in the Bay to Breakers race on Sunday. It was Luna’s first time running the 12K course and she was taking it at a leisurely pace. (J.L. Odom/Bay City News)

It was Morizono’s second time running the race, and more Queer Run SF members joined her on the course this time around: “Last year, there were just three of us running the race, and we had the best time ever. So we came back this year, and there were probably 12 of us because the run club is growing. We all wanted to have a good time together.”

Once in Golden Gate Park, some Bay to Breakers participants were on the lookout for the famed bison on John F. Kennedy Drive (“Are they out?;” “Do you see them?”); others considered their inside-the-park location as confirmation that they were closing in on the finish line (“Just a couple more miles to go!;” “I think we’re almost done but I’m not 100 percent sure.”)

Joyce Luna was in no rush to get to the finish; she was focused on having an enjoyable time at her first Bay to Breakers, walking at a pace that felt comfortable.

“I’ll just find them at the end,” she said of her 14 friends participating in the race, all of whom are avid walkers in Pinole.

Winning wasn’t everything

After crossing the finish line, a sizable crowd stayed on the Great Highway, socializing, grabbing a beer and listening to live music. Some stopped by the “Awards” tent to see if they had earned an additional medal besides the finisher medal everyone received if they placed top-three in the nonbinary, women’s or men’s category or in their age group.

Definite award winners were those who nabbed first place overall at this year’s Bay to Breakers. In the nonbinary category, Cal Calamia won with a time of 44:26:27 (5:58 pace per mile); in the women’s category, Julia Vasquez Giguere won with a time of 43:48:94 (5:53 pace per mile); and in the men’s category, Colin Bennie won with a time of 37:01:59 (4:58 pace per mile).

Weather-wise, it was an ideal morning for people to head outside and take in the traveling show, whether standing somewhere along Howard, Hayes or Fell streets or sitting on the lawn or in a yellow Adirondack chair in Golden Gate Park’s Promenade.

The warm temps and sunniness also prompted several large groups, including the crustacean-costumed Midnight Runners SF, to set up shop on the Panhandle lawn, with dance music thumping through speakers, making if not a day of it, then at least a decent stretch of the early afternoon.

Bay to Breakers 2024 results can be found online.

The post Bay to Breakers 2024: An anything-goes party where many had fun and a few came to run appeared first on Local News Matters.

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