Race Recap: Bay to Breakers 2021
When I first heard of Bay to Breakers, someone described it to me as a giant moving party in the streets of San Francisco before they told me it was an actual 12K race. Over 50,000 people enter the race every year and at least a hundred thousand more come to spectate and cheer. The course starts in the Financial District in San Francisco Bay and traverses the city to finish where the Pacific breaks on Ocean Beach. The middle is a massive celebration of people filling the streets in ridiculous costumes or nothing at all, taking their time to reach the beach.
This past Sunday, May 20, you couldn’t even tell that it was a typical foggy day in San Francisco with all the bright costumes coloring the streets. The course goes through major sites in San Francisco like Golden Gate Park. If you arrive early to watch the race start, there is a moment of calm before the madness ensues when the elites take off gunning for a piece of the hefty prize purse. They sprint past you as you hear their sharp breaths and then they’re gone, leaving the streets for the parties to begin.
On the men’s side, 24-year-old Philemon Cheboi from Kenya won the race for the second year in a row. Cheboi finished with a time of 35:37 and collected a $2,000 prize. He said he was racing for girls’ education in Kenya. In a not so close race, Gabriel Geay from Tanzania came in second with a time of 36:01 and USA’s Aaron Braun came in third with a time of 36:41. Jane Kibii won the women’s race and also collected a $2,000 prize. The 32-year-old finished with a time of 40:33. Lindsay Flanagan of the USA was the second female finisher with a time of 40:44. Flanagan commented that she had fun during the race and had never started a race side by side with a pink gorilla nor ran up a hill that steep.
The hill she is referring to is the infamous Hayes Hill. It is 0.69 miles long and has an average grade of 5.5% and is 11% at its steepest. This hill is so grueling that there is a $1,000 bonus for the fastest female and fastest male to run from the bottom to top of it.
If you happen to be watching the race and see runners attached by rope or bungee cord, they are participating in the centipede challenge. The centipede challenge, where 13 runners attach themselves to each other and must finish as a unit, started decades ago and has remained ever since, a staple at Bay to Breakers.
Some other strange things you might have seen on Sunday are, dancing salmon, flying tortillas, and a number of Prince Harrys and Meghan Markles. This race is unique in that speed is not the goal of this race. In fact, this is probably the one race you would want to never end. The oldest running race in the city of San Francisco, Bay to Breakers is about having a good time with friends old and new. Whether you are Jane Kibii or the guy dressed in the banana suit, you are having fun.
1. Philemon Cheboi, Kenya 35:37
2. Gabriel Geay, Tanzania 36:01
3. Aaron Braun, USA 36:41
1. Jane Kibii, Kenya 40:33
2. Lindsay Flanagan, USA 40:44
3. Biruktayit Degefa, Ethiopia 41:37