Bay to Breakers

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Bay to Breakers
2010 05 16 Bay 2 Breakers pink gorilla.jpg
Participants in the 2010 race
DateThird Sunday in May
LocationSan Francisco
Event typeRoad
Distance12 km
Course recordsMen: 33:31 (2009)
Sammy Kitwara
Women: 38:07 (2010)
Lineth Chepkurui
Official site

Bay to Breakers is an annual footrace in San Francisco, California typically on the third Sunday of May. The phrase "Bay to Breakers" reflects the fact that the race starts at the northeast end of the downtown area a few blocks from The Embarcadero (adjacent to San Francisco Bay) and runs west through the city to finish at the Great Highway (adjacent to the Pacific coast, where breakers crash onto Ocean Beach). The complete course is 7.46 miles (12.01 km) long.[1]

Bay to Breakers is well known for many participants wearing costumes.[2][3] The 1986 edition set a Guinness Word Record for being world's largest footrace with 110,000 participants, until that was surpassed by the 2010 City2Surf event in Sydney.[4][5] Attendance in 2015 was reported at roughly 50,000.[6] That year, signed on as the multi-year title sponsor of Bay to Breakers; the name of the race became Bay to Breakers. As of 2017 the title sponsor of the race is Alaska Airlines.


Newspaper account of the first race in 1912

Started as a way to lift the city's spirits after the disastrous 1906 San Francisco earthquake, it has been run for more consecutive years over a given course and length than has any other footrace in the world; although other footraces are older and have been run for more consecutive years, their courses and lengths have changed over time.[7] During World War II participation sometimes slipped below 50 registrants, but the tradition carried on. With 110,000 participants, the Bay to Breakers race held on May 18, 1986 was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest footrace.[4] That record number was partly the product of the running boom of the 1980s; currently the average participation is between 70,000 and 80,000. Many participants do not register; of the estimated 60,000 participants in 2008, 33,000 were registered.[8] The San Francisco Examiner, a former sponsor of the race, published a list of the first 10,000 finishers the day after the race each year.

Participants enjoy a musical performance at Bay to Breakers in 2010

The route is typically dotted with various local bands performing. At the end of the race is a Finish Line Festival, a gathering where participants and spectators can enjoy musical performances by various musical acts.

In February 2009, city officials and race sponsors announced changes to the race regulations. The regulations included an official ban on floats, alcohol, drunkenness and nudity.[9] The changes were made to assuage the concerns of San Francisco residents along the parade route, who say the race has gotten out of hand in recent years.[10] The news sparked outrage amongst many Bay Area residents who said the changes would destroy much that has made the race a national treasure for most of the last century.[9]

2020 saw a virtual race run for the first time as a live human race wasn't held. Officials cite the COVID-19 pandemic as grounds for moving the race to online. Entrants were also given the option to defer their entry to 2021 or get refunded. The next race will start in August 2021.

Organization and sponsors[edit]

House parties are present along the course.

Bay to Breakers is owned and operated by Wasserman. In 2010, ING completed 5 years of sponsorship.[11] In 2011, online retailer Zazzle signed a deal to sponsor Bay to Breakers for 2 years.[12] After Zazzle dropped out as a title sponsor in 2013, the race was picked up by Craigslist.[13] In 2014, ZOZI, the B2B2C platform for the $125B global tours and activities market, signed a deal to sponsor Bay to Breakers.[14]

On February 12, 2014 Bay to Breakers announced a partnership with athletic apparel company Under Armour to provide race participants with hi-tech runner's shirts.[15] All registered participants receive perks like the Under Armour T, as well as an MVP membership to Map My Fitness, Finisher Medals, Race Bib with Timing Tag, on course entertainment and access to the Finish Line Festival. On February 18, 2015 became the multi-year title sponsor of the event. As such, the event was renamed " Bay to Breakers".[16]

On March 30, 2017 Alaska Airlines became the title sponsor of the race in an effort to connect with the Bay Area community and events, in the same year expanding service to 13 more cities from the Bay Area.[17]


The course runs from the bay (in the distance here) through Golden Gate Park to the breakers at Ocean Beach (in the foreground).

The Bay to Breakers is held on a USA Track & Field certified point-to-point course.[18] USATF notes that the course is "wind dependent", therefore, a USA Track & Field record can only be set when it can be shown that there is no significant tailwind.[19]

The initial course started at the Ferry Building along Market Street to Golden Gate Avenue before turning onto Divisadero Street.[20] In 1968, the start was moved from Market Street to Howard Street and the ascension to Divisadero moved to Hayes Street.[21] In 1983, the course was shortened from 7.51 miles to an official 12K (7.46 miles).[4] The current course turns west along Hayes Street and up Hayes Street Hill near Alamo Square. This is the only major incline in the race. After the hill, the race runs along the panhandle and then west through Golden Gate Park, past the Conservatory of Flowers, all the way to the Great Highway and Ocean Beach. The Great Highway will also host a Finish Line Festival, a postrace recovery and reunion area.


Costumes are commonly worn by race participants and party-goers

Bay to Breakers is one of the most popular footraces in the United States. Large numbers of participants walk the route behind the runners, and many dress in costumes, while other wear nothing but shoes, thus lending a party atmosphere to the event. Participants have developed a number of unique, festive practices for the race. One festive tradition is the tortilla toss, during which crowds of runners waiting to cross the start line throw tortillas at one another to pass time (similar to balloon-batting at rock concerts).

Other oddities are always on the scene, including traditional characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man, as well as other unique characters spawned for the race. At least 40 pairs of Blues Brothers participated in the 1985 edition.[22] Every year, some runners dressed as salmon run "upstream" from the breakers to the Bay.[23][24]


The LinkedIn team, which won the 2010 Centipede competitions.

Bay to Breakers features a special team division called "centipedes". Teams of 13 or more runners will travel the full 12k course together linked by a bungee cord, or any other safe mechanism. An additional runner, a floater, usually the team captain, is allowed to run along untethered to pace the team or substitute for a drop out runner. Despite the novelty, the centipede race is very competitive. Bay to Breakers is the official site of the World Centipede Running Championships.[4]

While the founding of the "centipede" is commonly attributed to Dwayne "Peanut" Harms, who was an original member of the first-ever "Pede" and a member of the UC Davis men's track team, ("Aggies"),[4] in 1978, Douglas L. Peck, also a UC Davis runner, founded a special division of the race in which 13 runners are connected as a unit. Peck also ran as "Head Pede," i.e., he was the leader of the centipede.[25]

Course records[edit]

Race organizers and media have reported that the course records set by Sammy Kitwara in 2009 and Lineth Chepkurui in 2010 are also world records at the 12 km distance;[26] however, the International Association of Athletics Federations, the international governing body for the sport of athletics/track and field, does not recognize world records or world bests in either an indoor or outdoor 12 km.[27] The Association of Road Racing Statisticians, a non-regulatory group that collects road running data, does recognize world records in the outdoor 12 km provided that the race course meets certain criteria.[28][29] In order to rule-out the possibility of wind assistance in point-to-point courses, the ARRS stipulates that the course must have "not more than 30% of the race distance separation between that start and finish", or 3.6 km for a 12 km race.[29] Given that the Bay to Breakers is run on a point-to-point course in which the start and finish of the event are approximately 10.5 linear kilometers apart, the ARRS recognizes two other marks as 12 km world records: Kenyan Simon Kigen's 33:46 in Portland, Oregon on May 19, 1985 and Chepkurui's 38:10 at the 2010 Lilac Bloomsday Run.[28][nb 1]

Individual winners[edit]

Bay to Breakers frontrunners in 2016

   = Course record

Date Men's Winner Country Time Women's Winner Country Time
January 1, 1912 Bobby Vlught  United States 44:10
January 1, 1913 Bobby Vlught  United States 40:59
January 1, 1914 Oliver Millard  United States 40:46.6
January 1, 1915 Oliver Millard  United States 41:39
January 1, 1916 George Wyckoff  United States 42:33
January 1, 1917 Oliver Millard  United States 41:29.6
January 1, 1918 Edgar Stout  United States 42:41
January 1, 1919 Harry Ludwig  United States 42:45.4
January 1, 1920 William Churchill  United States 40:56.6
January 1, 1921 Charles Hunter  United States 40:27.6
January 1, 1922 William Churchill  United States 42:56
January 1, 1923 William Churchill  United States 41:56
January 1, 1924 William Churchill  United States 41:52
January 1, 1925 Vincenzo Goso  United States 42:59.6
January 1, 1926 Frank Eames  United States 42:13
January 1, 1927 Frank Eames  United States 42:55.8
January 29, 1928 Pietro Giordanengo  United States 43:05
January 27, 1929 Pietro Giodanengo  United States 43:05
February 2, 1930 Manuel John  United States 43:10
February 1, 1931 Jack Keegan  United States 44:28
February 7, 1932 Ray Cocking  United States 43:19
February 5, 1933 Jack Keegan  United States 43:31
January 28, 1934 John Nehi  United States 42:12
March 3, 1935 Leo Karlhofer  United States 43:50.6
March 1, 1936 Joe McCluskey  United States 40:37.2
March 14, 1937 Norm Bright  United States 39:52
March 6, 1938 Ed Preston  United States 41:15
March 12, 1939 Ed Preston  United States 41:14
March 10, 1940 Ed Preston  United States 42:12
March 2, 1941 Frank Lawrence  United States 42:39
March 15, 1942 James Haran  United States 43:53
October 10, 1943 Joseph Wehrly  United States 45:01
April 30, 1944 Fred Kline  United States 43:15
May 6, 1945 Fred Kline  United States 43:25.1
April 7, 1946 Fred Kline  United States 44:28
March 23, 1947 Merle Knox  United States 43:52
April 18, 1948 Fred Kline  United States 44:27
May 1, 1949 Merle Knox  United States 42:58
May 7, 1950 Elwyn Stribling  United States 42:57
May 6, 1951 John Holden  United States 46:09
May 4, 1952 Jim Shettler  United States 45:34
May 3, 1953 Jesse Van Zant  United States 42:05
May 9, 1954 Jesse Van Zant  United States 42:15
April 24, 1955 Jesse Van Zant  United States 43:32
April 29, 1956 Walt Berger  United States 44:56
May 12, 1957 Jesse Van Zant  United States 44:02
May 11, 1958 Wilford King  United States 41:17
May 24, 1959 Wilford King  United States 41:30
May 22, 1960 Don Kelley  United States 41:59.8
May 21, 1961 Jack Marden  United States 41:30
May 20, 1962 Jim Shettler  United States 41:25.3
May 19, 1963 Herman Gene Gurule  United States 40:15.7
May 17, 1964 Jeff Fishback  United States 38:32
May 23, 1965 William Morgan  United States 38:02
May 22, 1966 Eric Brenner  United States 41:10.6 Frances K. Conley  United States 1:00:07
May 21, 1967 Tom Laris  United States 38:42
May 26, 1968 Kenny Moore  United States 38:15
May 25, 1969 Kenny Moore  United States 38:40 Mary Etta Boitano  United States 1:01:12
May 24, 1970 Kenny Moore  United States 39:29 Joyce Swannack-Gibbs  United States 58:08
May 23, 1971 Kenny Moore  United States 36:57 Frances Conley[nb 2]  United States 50:45
May 21, 1972 Kenny Moore  United States 36:39 Cheryl Flanagan  United States 44:47
May 20, 1973 Kenny Moore  United States 37:15 Cheryl Flanagan  United States 45:20
May 19, 1974 Gary Tuttle  United States 37:07 Mary Etta Boitano  United States 43:22
May 18, 1975 Ric Rojas  United States 37:18 Mary Etta Boitano  United States 46:04
May 16, 1976 Chris Wardlaw  Australia 37:28 Mary Etta Boitano  United States 49:20
May 15, 1977 Paul Geis  United States 37:28 Judy Leydig  United States 47:28
May 14, 1978 Gerard Barrett  Australia 35:17.4 Joyce Swannack-Gibbs  United States 47:02
May 20, 1979 Bob Hodge  United States 36:50 Laurie Binder  United States 43:07
May 18, 1980 Craig Virgin  United States 35:11 Laurie Binder  United States 42:20
May 17, 1981 Craig Virgin  United States 35:07 Janice Oehm  United States 41:47
May 16, 1982 Rod Dixon  New Zealand 35:08 Laurie Binder  United States 42:28
May 15, 1983 Rod Dixon  New Zealand 35:01.3 Laurie Binder  United States 41:24.7
May 20, 1984 Ibrahim Hussein  Kenya 35:11 Nancy Ditz  United States 42:32
May 19, 1985 Ibrahim Hussein  Kenya 34:53 Joan Samuelson  United States 39:55
May 18, 1986 Ed Eyestone  United States 34:33 Grete Waitz  Norway 38:45
May 17, 1987 Arturo Barrios  Mexico 34:45 Rosa Mota  Portugal 39:16
May 15, 1988 Arturo Barrios  Mexico 34:58 Lisa Ondieki  Australia 39:17
May 21, 1989 Arturo Barrios  Mexico 34:40 Ingrid Kristiansen  Norway 39:14
May 20, 1990 Arturo Barrios  Mexico 34:42 Jill Boltz  England 39:19.5
May 19, 1991 Thomas Osano  Kenya 33:55 Susan Sirma  Kenya 38:27
May 17, 1992 Thomas Osano  Kenya 33:57 Lisa Ondieki  Australia 38:36
May 16, 1993 Ismael Kirui  Kenya 33:42 Lynn Jennings  United States 39:14
May 15, 1994 Ismael Kirui  Kenya 34:03 Tegla Loroupe  Kenya 39:10
May 21, 1995 Ismael Kirui  Kenya 33:58 Delilah Asiago  Kenya 38:23
May 19, 1996 Thomas Osano  Kenya 34:35 Elana Meyer  South Africa 38:56
May 18, 1997 Joseph Kimani  Kenya 33:51 Jane Omoro  Kenya 39:56
May 17, 1998 Simon Rono  Kenya 33:58 Jane Omoro  Kenya 38:57
May 16, 1999 Lazarus Nyakeraka  Kenya 34:11 Catherine Ndereba  Kenya 38:37
May 21, 2000 Reuben Cheruiyot  Kenya 34:54 Colleen De Reuck  South Africa 38:42
May 20, 2001 James Koskei  Kenya 34:19 Jane Ngotho  Kenya 40:35
May 19, 2002 James Koskei  Kenya 34:03 Luminiţa Talpoş  Romania 39:15
May 18, 2003 James Koskei  Kenya 35:11 Lyudmila Biktasheva  Russia 39:22
May 16, 2004 Benjamin Maiyo  Kenya 34:50 Albina Ivanova  Russia 39:56
May 15, 2005 Gilbert Okari  Kenya 34:20 Asmae Leghzaoui  Morocco 38:22
May 21, 2006 Gilbert Okari  Kenya 34:20 Tatyana Hladyr  Ukraine 39:09
May 20, 2007 John Korir  Kenya 34:44 Edna Kiplagat  Kenya 38:55
May 18, 2008 John Korir  Kenya 34:24 Lineth Chepkurui  Kenya 39:22
May 17, 2009 Sammy Kitwara  Kenya 33:31 Teyba Erkesso  Ethiopia 38:29
May 16, 2010 Sammy Kitwara  Kenya 34:15 Lineth Chepkurui  Kenya 38:07
May 15, 2011 Ridouane Harroufi  Morocco 34:26 Lineth Chepkurui  Kenya 39:12
May 20, 2012 Sammy Kitwara  Kenya 34:41 Mamitu Daska  Ethiopia 39:03
May 19, 2013 Tolossa Gedefa  Ethiopia 35:01 Diane Nukuri-Johnson  Burundi 40:12
May 18, 2014 Geoffrey Kenisi  Kenya 35:06 Diane Nukuri-Johnson  Burundi 40:15
May 17, 2015 Isaac Mukundi Mwangi  Kenya 35:25 Jane Kibii  Kenya 40:04
May 15, 2016 Isaac Mukundi Mwangi  Kenya 35:23 Caroline Chepkoech  Kenya 40:36
May 21, 2017 Philemon Cheboi  Kenya 34:48 Buze Diriba  Ethiopia 39:48
May 20, 2018 Philemon Cheboi  Kenya 35:41 Jane Kibii  Kenya 40:27
May 19, 2019 Gabriel Geay  Tanzania 35:01 Caroline Rotich  Kenya 39:28
2020 2020 Bay to Breakers cancelled due to COVID-19[34]

Centipede winners[edit]

   = Course record

Date Men's Centipede Winner Country Time Women's Centipede Winner Country Time
May 20, 1990 Reebok Aggies USA 37:39 Reebok Aggies USA 47:36
May 18, 2008 ASICS Aggies Men USA 38:05 ASICS Aggies Women USA 47:47
May 17, 2009 ASICS Aggies Men USA 40:27 ASICS Aggies Women USA 50:51
May 16, 2010 LinkedIn Centipede USA 37:58 ASICS Aggies Women USA 48:44
May 15, 2011 LinkedIn Centipede USA 37:00 ASICS Aggies Women USA 49:06
May 20, 2012 Team LinkedIn USA 36:44 Impala Racing Team USA 46:37
May 19, 2013 ASICS Aggies Centipede Men USA 40:03 ASICS Aggies Centipede Women USA 48:17
May 18, 2014 ASICS Aggies Centipede Men USA 40:19 ASICS Aggies Centipede Women USA 47:59

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Race records from the Association of Road Racing Statisticians indicate that Joseph Kimani of Kenya also ran a 33:31 at the Arts Fest River Run in Evansville, Indiana in 1997;[30] however, it was also held on a point-to-point course that USATF has noted as "wind dependent" and not "record eligible".[31][32]
  2. ^ According to race organizers, Frances Conley was the first official female runner in 1971.[33]


  1. ^ "General Information". ING Bay to Breakers. 2006. Archived from the original on August 25, 2007. Retrieved September 9, 2007.
  2. ^ "SF Bay To Breakers Run 'Relatively Peaceful'". May 17, 2009. Archived from the original on May 19, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  3. ^ Dunlap, Scott (May 20, 2012). "The Naked Fun of the 2012 Bay to Breakers". A Trail Runner's Blog. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Noteworthy Years in Race History". Zazzle Bay to Breakers. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  5. ^ "'Run for Pasig' certified world's largest race". ABS-CBN Interactive. December 27, 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  6. ^ Allday, Erin; Swan, Rachel (May 18, 2015). "Security quickly takes charge at annual Bay to Breakers bedlam". SF Gate. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  7. ^ "About Bay to Breakers: History". Bay to Breakers. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  8. ^ "Race Results" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 30, 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Knight, Heather (February 12, 2009). "Beer, Nudity Banned in Bay to Breakers". SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  10. ^ Sabatini, Joshua (February 12, 2009). "SF Examiner: Bay to Breakers Jumps on Wagon". The San Francisco Examiner. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  11. ^ "Sponsor ING drops Bay to Breakers". SFGate. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  12. ^ "Zazzle Named Title Sponsor For Bay To Breakers". CBS Bay Area. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  13. ^ Dalton, Andrew. "Craigslist Announces Bay To Breakers Sponsorship". SFist. Archived from the original on February 1, 2016. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  14. ^ "ZOZI Signs On As A Key Sponsor of 2014 Bay to Breakers Race". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  15. ^ Wendell, Erin (February 12, 2014). "Under Armour Partners with Bay to Breakers As the Official Performance Apparel and Footwear Provider". PRWeb. PRWeb. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  16. ^ Cook, Catherine. " Signs on as Title Sponsor of San Francisco's Iconic Bay to Breakers Race". Reuters. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  17. ^ Cook, Catherine (March 30, 2017). " Signs on as Title Sponsor of San Francisco's Iconic Bay to Breakers Race". Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  18. ^ "Certified Course Map". USATF. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  19. ^ "Course Number". Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  20. ^ Filion, Ron. "San Francisco History – Cross-City Race 1912". Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  21. ^ "Timing Tag Centennial Collection". ING Bay To Breakers. Archived from the original on April 25, 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  22. ^ Wason, Tim (May 22, 1985). "Bay-to-Breakers race a time for celebrating fun aspect of sports". The Christian Science Monitor. Boston. p. 18. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
  23. ^ Friedman, Steve; Strout, Erin (January 2006). "King of the Stunt Runners". Runner's World. Rodale. 41 (1): 106. ISSN 0897-1706. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
  24. ^ The San Francisco Cacophony Society. "Spawn! Home of the Breakers Bo Bay "Upstream" Salmon". San Francisco: The San Francisco Cacophony Society. Archived from the original on October 28, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
  25. ^ Supersano, Melanie (August 8, 1991). "Grads find success through antennae". Record-Courier (Gardnerville, Nev.).
  26. ^ Aldax, Mike (May 16, 2010). "ING Bay to Breakers: Women's world record broken; Kitwara wins second straight for men". San Francisco Examiner. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  27. ^ "Records". August 25, 2007. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  28. ^ a b "Working Group on Road Records". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. June 12, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  29. ^ a b "Rules for record-keeping". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  30. ^ "Arts Fest River Run 12 km". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. January 17, 2006. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  31. ^ "Certified Course Map". USATF. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Course Records". ING Bay To Breakers. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  34. ^

External links[edit]