Bay to Breakers Survival Guide

Bay to Breakers

Written by Victoria Philpott

Zazzle Bay to Breakers 2012 is on Sunday May 20 at 7am – 12noon in San Francisco. The 12k race starts at Howard & Spear Sts and finishes at the intersection of JFK Drive and Chain of Lakes Drive in Golden Gate Park. Participants run from the northeast end of the downtown area near The Embarcadero – the bay – to the west end of the city and the breakers of Ocean Beach.

Whether you’re in it to win it, just want to have a laugh waddling around in a funny costume or just wait to sit around the edge watching the action, it’s always a fun day out for everyone.

What exactly is Bay to Breakers?

It’s a 12k race from Bay to Breakers. Tens of thousands of people participate each year and the winner gets San Francisco wide recognition and some money for the honour. As one of the world’s largest and oldest footraces it’s also one of the most well-known.

Bay to Breakers Race in San Francisco It started as a positive reaction to the San Francisco earthquake which ripped the city apart on April 18 1906. Six years later San Franciscans founded the Cross City Race – now know as Bay to Breakers – to commemorate the event and look to the future.

It was also a precursor to the world-class athletic events being planned for the 1915 Pan Pacific International Exposition.

If you’re not running you can cheer everyone on and around the Final Mile there’s loads to do. You could meet up with family and friends at the alphabet A-Z garden and enjoy some food and drink as you hang out. There’ll be a whole host of vendors and interactive activities to enjoy.

How can I get involved?

If you want in on the fun, frivolity and determination you can register for the Bay to Breakers race now. More than 50,000 participants and 100,000 spectators turn out annually to enjoy the beautiful course.

The last day to sign up to the race and for your race packet with your runner number and timing tag is April 25 2012, but you can sign up to Bay to Breakers until May 15 2012 and just pick the bamph up at the Zazzle Final Mile before the race.

Run with your family/friends/workmates in a minimum 13-person long line and you can enter the Centipede race. This looks ridiculously fun and basically consists of you all running like a centipede would – attached to each other and with stingers at the front of the line. I’m sure this would be the funniest race to watch too.

Winnners of Bay to Breakers 2010

There are shuttle buses available to get you to and from your accommodation to the race – you’ll definitely be better off with one of these rather than your own car as parking is limited and will be crazy.

Last year’s costume competition winners

This year will be Bay to Breakers’ 101st year and the costume competition is still going strong. Last year’s winners – the Royal Family below – got a $1,000 Zazzle shopping spree.

Bay to Breakers in San Francisco

The Costume of the Century winner claimed his crown for his full body birthday cake design and the group prize went to these Oompa Loompas who won a $500 Zazzle shopping spree.

Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers is also famed for the amount of nude runners it attracts – all in the name of good fun. And every year, there’ll always be someone dressed up as a salmon running “upstream” from the breakers to the Bay.

Current Bay to Breakers records

From the official Bay to Breakers website.

  • Men’s record: 33:31, Sammy Kitwara (Kenya), 2009
  • Women’s record: 38:07, Lineth Chepkurui (Kenya), 2010
  • Fastest Men’s Centipede time: 37:00, LinkedIn, 2011
  • Fastest Women’s Centipede time: 47:36, Reebok Aggies, 1990
  • Largest Bay to Breakers: 78,769 runners registered, 110,000 total, 1986
  • Smallest Bay to Breakers: 25 runners registered, 1963
  • Ages of youngest and oldest participants:
  • Robert Rosen, age 1, 2000
  • Stefan Arcelona, age 99, 2000


San Francisco Guest House is our closest accommodation to the finishing line. They have 2-4 bed dorms and a full kitchen, free Wi-Fi and shops, restaurants and bus stops right next to the hostel. Each room has cable TV, DVD and security lockers. The continental breakfast will be pretty tasty too.

San Francisco Accommodation for Bay to Breakers

Shared dorm from €14.46pppn and private rooms from €29.55pppn. Book now!

Or you could stay at our award-winning San Francisco hostel Green Tortoise Backpackers. It’s the highest rated by our past customers and is in a great location by the bay. Stay here and you’ll be just a short walk from Chinatown and close to Fisherman’s Wharf too.

You’ll get free high speed internet, free full breakfast, free dinners, free under bed lockers and a free sauna. The owners’ aim is to make you feel at home. They have a huge kitchen, a pool table, a fusball table, cable TV and a bike rack for you to enjoy.

Cheap accommodation in San Francisco

Private rooms start from €24.52pppn and dorms from €20.75pppn. Book now!

Thanks to permanently scatterbrained,  Jack Parrott and smi23le for the excellent images from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting. 

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