Category Archives: Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers – 1998

May 17, 1998

I drove Riva and some members of her centipede to the start.  They had to get there early, because they were seeded, and had to get into a certain area by 7:00am (with an 8:00am race start).  That ended up putting me VERY close to the front, and I didn’t have to wait as long to cross the starting line.

My first mile was 10 minutes (trying to get out of the pack), but I was able to accelerate nearly every mile (except 9:00 on the Hayes Street Hill).  My goal was to finish in the top 10,000 (to get my name in the paper, and maybe PR or at least, to break an hour).  I finished in 59:43 (no PR, but not bad considering the crowds) and I placed 1460 out of 75,000 (top 2%).

Riva and her centipede (13 athletes attached together) finished in the top 50 or so runners.  A little history about the seeded centipedes.  If you look at the results, you will note that the Reebok Aggies ALWAYS win the seeded centipedes – men and women.  But in 1998, the women’s team failed to register.  My sister’s team was some of her East Bay Striders teammates and they were sponsored by a little-known energy bar company called Clif (at least, at that time, relatively unknown).  Riva’s team was beaten by the Reebok Aggie women, who then tried to register for the race (at the finish line).  That didn’t work, and my sister’s team was declared the winner.

As winners, they got access to the VIP tent (my sister was tossing gourmet snacks and fruit drinks over the fence to me), won a silver platter, and got VIP shuttle service back to the start.  Riva was selected to pick up the award and was sitting next to the female award winners (all African-born), and one said, “Are you 4th place?”  Ha ha.

I’m not sure how we were getting back to the start, but by virtue of the win, they would get a shuttle ride back.  Since it was my car, I also got to ride back with the VIPs.  A cool experience.

Bay to Breakers is fun, but after an hour being crammed in at the start, I decided that I would not run it again, unless I ran a sub-seeded time (something like a 42-minute 10K) in order to get out ot the rabble rousers at the start.  My idea of fun is not shuffling in a huge crowd.

Bay to Breakers – 1997

May 18, 1997

I decided to make a return to Bay to Breakers and participate as a runner (rather than a non-paying bandit).  My roommate, Valerie, was also interested in participating.  We stayed with my folks in Piedmont, and then caught BART to the start.

In 1996, we started about an hour after everyone had left, but this time, we were at the start prior to the actual start of the race, and there were a lot of people there!  Basically, you could look down 6 blocks of streets (or at least, I could, because I could see over everyone’s heads) and see nothing but a sea of humanity… and beach balls, tortillas, and more.  People were throwing all sorts of (soft) items, and guess what?  I got several of them bouncing off my noggin.

Since we arrived relatively early, we were fairly close to the front of the race, but it still took us about 15 minutes to get across the starting line after the gun went off, and even so, there were lots of bandits jumping in from all directions.  It was crowded, crazy and chaotic.

Val and I made it a point to decide on a meeting point before the race started, because I KNEW we would get separated.  Impossible, unless you are part of a Centipede (which we were not).  Even before the Hayes Street hill, we got separated.

I enjoyed the run much more than in the previous year (also because the people around me weren’t “dying”), and I averted my eyes more than once when several male naked runners flopped by.

I got to the finish in 1:16:07, which was good enough for placing in the top 10,000 (which is how many they listed in the newspaper).  Val and I met up at Footstock, and eventually got back to my folks’ in the East Bay.  My parents excitedly said, “We taped Val on TV for a few minutes.”  Apparently, when Val got to the Panhandle, some TV reporter convinced her to stop for a bit, put on a rainbow fright wig and dance or juggle or something.  Crazy.

Run for the Cranes

I decided with my friends Michelle and Allison to bandit the Bay to Breakers.  We would meet at the start about an hour AFTER the start and walk the course together.  All seven-and-a-half miles.

Since I was down in Oakland visiting for the weekend (to do Bay to Breakers), Riva suggested that I join her in a race the day before, called “Run for the Cranes,” since, in my words, ‘I had been doing some running.’ – Not much.

Despite the implication from the name that I was aiding some marsh birds, the run was near the Port of Oakland, and run on a mostly uneven surface next to dozens of shipping cranes.

There was a 5K and 10K and my sister was in the 10K.  My goal was to finish the 5K before she finished the 10K (in the “old” days, it would be close).  I can remember running ‘out of my mind’ fast, breathing very heavily and really wanting to stop and walk.

I finished in 22 minutes and change, and had to spend a good 20 minutes with my head between my knees because I felt so faint.  Around the time the 10K finished (clearly, my sister did not beat me, since under 22 minutes for a 10K would be a world record), some of the 10K runners were complaining that the 10K turnaround was really far from the 5K turnaround (like more than twice as far).  Turned out that the 5K was closer to 4K, neaning I ran around 5:30/K, so my real 5K time was around 28:30.  Still, that was probably (since I don’t have my original Feet Meet times) close to a 15-minute personal record (PR).

The following day my feet hurt quite a bit, but still I wanted to complete the Bay to Breakers walk.  Allison and I did OK, and Michelle struggled, especially towards the end, when she kept saying that she was “going to die, literally die.”  My youngest sister, Marisa, had a little trouble getting to a place where we could be picked up, and Michelle was a basket case the rest of the day.