It's the race made for both serious, disciplined runners and people just looking to have a good time alike: the annual Bay to Breakers race takes place Sunday, May 21, in San Francisco.
Thousands of people will pour onto the streets of San Francisco for the race, which cuts right across the heart of the city. Thousands more will head outside not to run, but to cheer others on.
The course runs from just a few blocks from the San Francisco Bay in downtown all the way to Ocean Beach, roughly 7.5 miles of jogging and joviality.
Crazy costumes, running shoes and (perhaps) a drink or two are all part of this unique 12K, which has been going on since 1912. Here's what people need to know ahead of the race.
Bay to Breakers begins at the intersection of Howard and Main (near the Bay). Participants will track southwest through the city for a bit, then cut right across the city, passing by Alamo Square and the Panhandle before heading into Golden Gate Park. From there, it's a jaunt along JFK Drive until they hit the Great Highway and the Pacific Ocean (the breakers).
The official course map can be found at BaytoBreakers.com, where you can zoom in and get a detailed look at the route.
The fun begins at 8 a.m. For many folks, it's much more about the journey than the destination, where people are destined to set their own pace as they soak in the experience—you can't linger on the course forever.
According to the event website, the official end of the race is 1 p.m., but there is an important milestone to hit just before that, via BaytoBreakers.com:
"Please note the course will closed at Chain of Lakes Drive in Golden Gate Park at 12:30 p.m. on race day. All participants not past this point at this time will be directed to Fulton or Lincoln Ave."
Curbed.com's Brock Keeling has a full list of road closures as well as changes to the city's municipal transportation schedule. Obviously, if you're driving anywhere near the route on Sunday, expect to run into plenty of roadblocks and some extra traffic, as runners traverse major streets like Howard, Hayes and Fell before getting into the park.
Truly, Bay to Breakers is a race like none other. There are survival guides, how-to guides and chronicles of bad behavior. Many people will show up with wild costumes or run together in packs for sponsors.
Some will run together, not in a group, but as a "centipede," as the San Francisco Chronicle's Peter Fimrite explained: "The race Sunday will mark the 40-year anniversary of the first centipede, in which teams of tethered runners race to the finish. In 1978, 13 members of the UC Davis track team tied themselves together for the run, ushering in a new era of competition."
Some will keep their wits about them through the entirety of the race, while Karl The Fog predicts others will have issues, thanks to the infamous Hayes Street Hill:
Elite runners flock to the competition as well, and some speed through. Last year, Kenya's Philemon Cheboi was the fastest male and breezed through the course in 34 minutes and 38 seconds, while Ethiopia's Buze Diriba paced the women with a time of 39:48, per BaytoBreakers.com.
The race is an appropriately inclusive competition, one that brings all kinds of people together for a day of incredible fun and a formidable test of endurance. Simply put, Bay to Breakers is more than a race; it's a celebration of the spirit of San Francisco.