Bay to Breakers 100th running announced for May 15, 2023

Jul 7, 2010:

San Francisco-The organizer of the Bay to Breakers road race confirmed that the 100th running of the venerable 12k race will take place on May 15, 2011. The race, a unique celebration of San Francisco and its culture, will institute new measures this year as part of its centennial celebration.

"We cherish the fun aspects of the race that have made it unique worldwide--runners dressed in costumes, centipedes, group running--that add to the excitement of a professional internationally important 12K footrace," said Angela Fang, general manager of the Bay to Breakers race. "In the coming months we will be announcing a number of compelling programs to enhance the race and the racing."

Fang said the race has been meeting with residents, neighborhood associations, race participants and representatives of the City and SFPD and that they have collectively highlighted a number of changes which are required to make the race a fun and safe event that can be enjoyed by everyone--runners, walkers, families, children, neighbors and the City as a whole.

Concerned about threats to public safety, particularly as it relates to illegal and excessive alcohol consumption, Fang stated the race is working with San Francisco Police Department officials, the Mayor’s Office, neighbors and neighborhood associations to enforce public alcohol consumption and public drunkenness laws at the 100th anniversary of the event.

She said this year’s 99th running of the race on May 16 had more than 30 ambulance transports, the majority of which were alcohol related. Bay to Breakers had about 5 times the number of ambulance transports as other comparable races in the United States.

Alcohol consumption and its negative impacts garnered the attention of civic leaders, many of whom want to see a positive change. "Another of San Francisco's cherished special events is being threatened by people who consider bad behavior a good time…There is no "right" to party when the party turns into destroying or defacing the property of others, threatening the safety and lives of those around you or leaving a trail of debris…behind you," wrote Joe D'Alessandro, CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, in the aftermath of the race this year in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"The illegal and dangerous abuse of alcohol must stop if the race is to continue as a fun and safe event that can be enjoyed by everyone-runners, walkers, families, children, neighbors and the City as a whole," Fang said.

"Drunkenness, and drunks, take away from the individuality and creativity that make the Bay to Breakers a unique and compelling civic tradition" Fang said, adding that these individuals will be arrested, cited and fined by SFPD next year.

"We are concerned for public safety, for the participants, for spectators and for neighborhood residents," said Jeff Godown, San Francisco Police Department Assistant Chief of Police.  "We want to help everyone safely enjoy a wonderful tradition."

A large crowd is anticipated for the 100th anniversary of the event, which was established in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake by civic leaders who wanted to boost morale and promote the image of the recovering city. In 1964, the race was dubbed ‘the Bay to Breakers.’

The first annual Cross City Race, held Jan. 1, 1912, was won by student Bobby Vlught, who crossed the finish line with a time of 44:10. By contrast, this year’s women’s winner, Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya, made world history finishing in 38:07 and the men’s winner, Sammy Kitwara of Kenya, became a back to back winner at the race with the time of 34:15.

"The Bay to Breakers is a San Francisco civic treasure," Fang said. She added that the race will also make other changes to the 100th anniversary event, including:

--Allowing only registered participants on the race course will reserve the right to fence the course and to remove non-registered "bandits."

--Working to have all streets opened by noon.

--Eliminating floats, which have to an unacceptable extent become alcohol delivery vehicles and magnets for unacceptable behavior

--Limiting the number of registrations for the 100th anniversary.

"We are making these changes so that neighbors, the community, registrants, and spectators alike can enjoy the event in the spirit in which it was founded. We want our 100th anniversary to be a shining success for San Francisco and its residents," Fang said.

She said the race is "working closely with SFPD to ensure that there is a sufficient police presence to enforce the law, including arrests" and will make a significant investment in advertising and promoting the rule changes so that the public will know that there are serious legal consequences for abusing alcohol and defacing the neighborhoods. She said that irresponsible individuals who have taken advantage of a fun civic event to trash San Francisco’s neighborhoods, homes, parks and streets and endanger themselves and others with reckless behavior "are not welcome at future races."