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San Francisco's Bay to Breakers

A Guide to San Francisco's Signature Foot Race


San Francisco's Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers runners as movable feasts.

Photo courtesy of Zazzle Bay to Breakers.


For Bay to Breakers' centennial in 2011, among the new no-nos were no floats and no wheels. No pets or headphones, either.  For Bay to Breakers on May 20, 2012, it's no T-shirts--unless you pay extra.

"$57 and no T-shirt?" one runner wrote in a Facebook comment. "Have fun without me."

At $57 for basic registration (and no shirt), the 101st edition of San Francisco's signature foot-race-cum-mobile-costume-party is stirring up grumbling about Zazzle, Bay to Breakers' sponsor this year and last year.

Higher registration fees
Registration for the 2011 centennial run cost $52 for adults and $47 for those under age 18. All B2B registrants got a T-shirt and a finisher's medallion. In 2010, with the ING financial group as sponsor, the fee ranged from $35 to $48 (depending on when you registered and your age), and included a commemorative tee.

This year's $57 bare-bones registration covers a race bib, a finisher's medal shaped like a cable car, a finisher's certificate, entrance to a post-race festival (which is free and open to the public anyway), and, as the race organizers say, "permits, water, infrastructure, security, portable toilets, and event clean-up." Pay $72, and they'll throw in an "Adidas participant T-shirt" bearing an illustration of a pink gorilla in sneakers.

Many B2B veterans say they're now priced out of the running--and yet the most expensive registration this year ($89.50, which gets you a "performance Adidas technical T-shirt") has sold out as of early May. Also ironic is that Redwood-City-based Zazzle is an online business that produces custom merchandise such as mugs and T-shirts. "Come on Zazzle!" one tech engineer's Facebook comment starts. "You're a T-shirt company and yet you can't come up with a free T-Shirt for your own race?"

Zazzle became B2B's sponsor after the drunkenness, property damage and debauchery accompanying the run had escalated so much in recent years that ING withdrew. Restrictions introduced last year were meant to minimize the mess. They also squashed much of the race's only-in-San-Francisco fun and character, B2B long-timers say; the 12K, after all, is a mobile Mardi Gras, famed for inventive get-ups, floats and wheeled contraptions, its costumed and naked runners, its clog of registered and unregistered joggers, and a few speedy Kenyans. "Ever since Zazzle took over this race, they've diminished it," a Santa Clara woman recently wrote on Facebook.

Nonetheless, tens of thousands of people are registering for the May 20 race, thousands of others aren't but will run along (in 2010, then-mayor Gavin Newsom was among the unregistered masses), and thousands more will watch from the sidelines. If you're any of these, here's what you need to know:


  • Registration is limited to 50,000 people.
  • Cost: $57 Basic Registration (no T-shirt); $72.00 Plus Registration (includes Adidas participant T-shirt). $89.50 Premium Registration (performance Adidas technical T-shirt) sold out as of early May.
  • May 16:  Deadline to register online.
  • May 18 and 19: If spaces are still available, you can register in person at the Greater Body Expo, at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove St., San Francisco, CA 94102. The expo is free and open to the public.
  • May 20 (race day): NO registration or packet pick up will be offered.
  • T-shirts: Pick up at the Expo on May 18-19, or at the post-race festival.


  • No wheels (strollers, baby joggers, shopping carts, rollerblades, skateboards, bicycles, unicycles, wheelchairs, etc.)
  • No floats
  • No animals
  • No alcohol (a rule long on the books, but hard to enforce)
  • No unregistered runners (also hard to enforce)
  • Runners and fast-movers should stay to the left. Slower-movers, stay to the right.
  • Finisher's medal: Only given to registered runners (with race bibs) who pass the intersection of JFK Drive and Chain of Lakes Drive in Golden Gate Park by 11:30 am.  Any later runners will not be allowed to cross the finish line or get a medal.
  • Finish line closes promptly at noon.
See next page for info on the Bay to Breakers route, best places to watch, costume contest and more ---->
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