Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Bay to Breakers

We live near San Francisco. That is to say, we live far enough away from it that our house didn’t cost five hundred thousand dollars per square millimeter, but close enough that we can drive there in less than two hours. A short drive into San Francisco is a great way to escape the United States for a day. If you haven’t been, you should really consider keeping it that way.

I take that back. San Francisco does have two redeeming features. For reasons unknown, Mike Rowe lives there, and the Giants play there in one of the best ballparks in the nation. I have no idea where Mike lives, but if you can get across the bay bridge on I-80 before the many construction errors and omissions cause it to fail and drop into the water, and make a hard left after you finish thanking the Lord that you made it across, and duck into AT&T Park for a day game, you won’t regret it. Just don’t get lost on your way out and accidentally wind up in ANY other part of the city.

If you do get lost and venture more than three feet in any direction from the baseball safe haven, do not leave your vehicle, unless you enjoy “aggressive panhandling.” This is San Francisco’s cute term for verbally abusive and violent bums. Don’t want to give up a dollar? Well then be prepared to be followed for a few blocks while the nice man provides you with your own personal obscenity sound track. If you visit enough parts of the city, you can get that soundtrack in over thirteen different languages.

Looking for tips on the proper way to shoot heroin? No problem. Just visit any one of the city’s numerous parks. I would suggest Golden Gate Park, since it’s the largest, offering over one thousand acres of helpful drug addicts and prostitutes. Yes, prostitutes, too. Want a hooker with your smack? You’re in luck. San Francisco is the of prostitution; you name it, they have it.

In keeping with this proud city’s complete lack of any sort of moral code, this past Sunday they ran the 102nd annual Bay to Breakers.

From the official website:
San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers is the oldest consecutively run annual footrace in the world, a staple to the City by the Bay since May 1912. With a starting point near the San Francisco Bay, a few blocks from The Embarcadero, the 12K race runs west through the city and finishes at the Great Highway where breakers crash onto the Pacific Coast’s Ocean Beach. A quintessential San Francisco experience for 102 years, the race is interwoven into the fabric of the city and is a true reflection and celebration of life between the breakers and the Bay.

Now, I assume that in 1912, it was an actual race, but in 2014, it is anything but. Actually, it is a lot of butt. The Bay to Breakers had devolved over the years into nothing more than a drunken, naked mosh pit. It’s sort of like if they held Burning Man on your street. Excessive drinking and rampant nudity – everything you look for in a good road race. Any other city in the free world would choose to go one way or the other with it; actual road race or huge all-city beer garden orgy; but the City by the Bay is still pretending it’s a real race while completely unable to control it. The San Francisco city council is the government equivalent of the parents who first tell their child no, then immediately cave when the kid throws himself on the floor in a fit. Except, in the city council’s case, they never said no in the first place.

The race starts only after everyone has successfully blown a 0.19 or higher on the Official Bay to Breakers Breathalyzer. As a convenience, the course is extremely straight, not unlike some of the participants. This minimizes the amount of runners who get lost on their way west. I think this year over one third of all the starters actually found the Pacific Ocean. On a map. Days later. The course conveniently heads straight through the heart of Haight-Ashbury, so if you’re low on hash or plastic rainbow beads mid-race, you can refuel. The crowd of runners then continues on through Golden Gate Park, where many of the park’s inhabitants wonder, “Oh man, is this a raid?” The race ends at the ocean where you must cross the finish line completely naked and immediately blow at least a 0.23 or higher on the Official BtBB in order for your time to count. If you cannot do this, beer bongs are provided until you qualify.

If you were not already familiar with this “quintessential San Francisco experience,” please DO NOT Google any images of the event. You will not be able to un-see what the internet will bring you. You have been warned. That being said, those that are unaware of the “nature” of the race - as it were – will be very misled by its website. I would urge the Bay to Breakers webmaster to update it as soon as possible.

One glaring error I found from the FAQ’s:
Is alcohol or other substances allowed on the race course?
Absolutely not. All alcohol and other illicit substances will be removed from the race course immediately. The person with the item will be ejected from the event and is subject to arrest.

This was obviously cut-and-pasted from a real race’s website. I think what they meant to say was, “Of course, but only if you’re naked or in a ridiculous costume, and only if you share.”

There are too many other errors and deficiencies to name here, not the least of which is the front page copy I shared earlier. I assume by “celebration of life” they obviously meant “graphic public how-to demonstrations on how life is so often created; drunk naked people.” And I hope, for San Francisco’s sake, the website is also wrong about the race being “a true reflection” of life in the city. They are in worse shape than I thought if that’s the case.

I will never know, however, since I will continue to maintain my two-hour perimeter, here in the safe zone, where we leave our reasonably-priced homes to run our road races sober and with our clothes on. Crazy, I know.

See you soon,


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