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Now this event is a difficult one to explain. I only became aware of it a few years ago and have been fascinated by it ever since. On the surface it's a 12km, USA Track and Field certified race unique for both starting and finishing at different stretches of water - the iconic San Francisco Bay for the start line and the Pacific Ocean for the finish.
It is one of the largest foot races anywhere in the world, with particpant numbers measured in the tens of thousands, and peak competitor levels of over 100,000! The race is currently sponsored by Zappos.com, maing the full official title the Zappos.com Bay to Breakers.
That only tells part of the story though, as the race is most famously known for, well, public nudity I guess. And some pretty spectacularly distasteful costumes worn by the participants. It's not entirely clear why and how this tradition started, and predictable public outrage, as well as an alcohol ban, have helped tone things down somewhat in recent years, but it still remains a unique spectacle and an event I would love to be in town for one day.
The race is just part of a day of entertainment, including the Finish Live Festival at Ocean Beach, where runners and spectators alike get together for a big post-race party!
The race gets underway at 8.00am this year and has an official finish time of 12 noon, which should be more than enough to cover the 12km course.
The police are also promising a more prominent presence along the route this year, and will apparently be enforcing the no-nudity rule a lot more stringently. The alcohol ban remains in place too.
The route runs as follows:
- Start line at Main Street & Howard Street
- Hayes Street
- Hayes Street Hill
- Along the Panhandle
- Golden Gate Park
- Conservatory of Flowers
- Ocean Beach parking lot on the Great Highway, where there will also be the popular Finish Line Festival taking place.
There is a map of the full route on the official site:
The nature of some of the costumes and expected level of near-nudity means this race is something of a lottery for any potential broadcasters, which could help explain why there's frequently little in the way of TV or online video streaming coverage available.
However, organisers have started to tighten the rules on customes which meant that last year ABC7 provided a live stream of the Bay to Breakers, with coverage starting at 8am local time - if this is repeated this year you'll be able to watch the webcast here:
There is live radio coverage of the Bay to Breakers on KGO radio:
There will likely be some coverage from the event on K-RON4 news, which is webcast online between 7 and 10am:
The best bet for finding any form of online coverage that is actually live on the day may well be to check out some of the local webcams, of which there are quite a few in the area:
If you're planning on being in San Francisco or the surrounding areas for the Bay to Breakers weekend and looking for somewhere to stay you can check out availability and make online reservations for local hotels here.
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