Noteworthy Years in Race History


1912: The Bay to Breakers, originally called the Cross City Race, is created to lift the spirits of the people of San Francisco during the tedious reconstruction following the 1906 earthquake. The first race hosts 186 starters, but only 121 participants finish. Robert "Bobby" Vlught, a St. Mary's College student and part-time newspaper copy-boy, is the first to cross the finish line, with a time of 44:10. He credits his good run to his mother's cooking. (He goes on to win again in 1913!)

1928: The race moves to the last Sunday in January. It has been held on a Sunday ever since.

1940: Barbara "Bobbie" Burke is the first woman to participate in the race. She signs up as "Bobby" at the urging of her boyfriend who wants her to join him in the run. Race organizers are surprised when "Bobby" turns out to be "Bobbie," but they don't turn her away because her boyfriend is two-time (soon to be three-time) champion Ed Preston. Bobbie and Ed later marry; their descendents still run the race today.

1940: The first costumed runner participates dressed as Captain Kidd. He finishes last.

1949: First year the race is held in May. It has been held in May ever since.

1950: The first African American, 19-year old Ellwyn Stribling, wins the race. His time is 42:57.

1963: The smallest Cross City race on record, with only 25 registered runners.

1964: The race is officially renamed the Bay to Breakers.

1966: The San Francisco Examiner assumes sponsorship of the race and begins developing it into what it is today: an event that draws participants and spectators from around the world.

1971: Women are officially allowed to run the Bay to Breakers. Neurosurgeon Dr. Frances K. Conley wins the women's division with a time of 50:45.

1974: Maryetta Boitano, aged 10, becomes the youngest winner in the history of the race.
She also sets the fastest women's finishing time at 43:22 and goes on to win the women's division in 1975 and 1976.

1978: Centipedes are founded by Dwayne "Peanut" Harms from the men's track team at UC Davis. Trophies are first awarded to this special division of the race called "centipedes", or 13 runners connected as a unit. The Examiner Bay to Breakers is the official site of the World Centipede Running Championships. A record 16,000 runners and walkers enter the race.

1983: The race distance officially becomes 12K (7.46 miles). (Prior to that, the distance was 7.51 miles.)

1986: The Guinness Book of World Records officially recognizes the May 18, 2023 Examiner Bay to Breakers as the largest footrace in the world. More than 110,000 people participate.

1989: Qualified men's and women's centipedes officially compete among Seeded runners.

1990: The Back of the Pack Club, made up of walkers and striders of all ages, emerges as a result of the latest fitness trend among Baby Boomers.

1990: The Reebok Aggies set the men's centipede record with a time of 37:39.

1990: The Reebok Aggies set the women's centipede record with a time of 47:36.

1992: A Sub-Seeded section is added for runners meeting the new time qualifications. (12K times: 45:00 for men and 55:00 for women.) Costume judging is held on the race course for the first time.

1993: The men's course record and world record is set by Ismael Kirui (Kenya); 33:42.

1993-1996: Bay to Breakers is designated the first official 12K national championship by the United States of America Track & Field (USAT&F), the governing body of U.S. running, in support of the 1996 Olympic Games.

1994: American runners are able to use their Bay to Breakers finishing times to meet the standard required for entry into the Olympic trials .

1995: The Bay to Breakers appears on the internet. The women's course record and world record is set by Delillah Asiago, Kenya; 38:23.

1996: The Tonight Show host Jay Leno serves as the Breakers Grand Marshal.

1998: For the first time in race history, more women register than men.

1998: The Examiner publishes the first 50,000 timed finishers' names on the first official Bay to Breakers website

1999: On-line registration makes its debut.

2001: 90th Anniversary of the Bay to Breakers. Organizers of the world's largest footrace announce new, heightened emphasis on the event's charitable mission: San Francisco Bay to Breakers Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of Bay Area children and youth, and assisting young people in crisis.

2005: With a finishing time of 38:22, Asmae Leghzaoui (Morocco) sets a new women's world record and bests the course record, set by Delillah Asiago (Kenya) in 1995, by one second.

2006: Race organizers institute an equalizer, starting the elite women athletes ahead of the men, based on the average difference between each division's course records.

2007: As a result of the equalizer started the year before, Edna Kiplagat becomes the first female elite in Breakers history to cross the finish line ahead of the men.

2009: Sammy Kitwara (Kenya) sets a course record and ties the 12K world's best with a time of 33:31.

2010: Lineth Chepkurui (Kenya) sets a new women’s course record with a time of 38:07.

2011: The historic 100th race: May 15th, 2011.  The Men's LinkedIn centipede sets a record breaking time of 37:00.