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Get Out Your Toga — It’s Bay to Breakers

| May 13, 2011
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Bay to Breakers revelers. Greg Monet/Flickr

Bay to Breakers revelers. Greg Monet/Flickr

By Amanda Stupi and Lisa Pickoff-White

It’s that time of year again, Bay to Breakers, when runners ponder what costume will go better with their sneakers — Wonder Woman or pirate wench. This Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the event, a 12 kilometer (that’s about 7.5 miles for the metrically challenged) race with a reputation for being just a tad debaucherous. But organizers swear this year will be safe, swift, and still quintessentially-San Francisco.

In recent years neighborhood groups have claimed that the event is out of control, citing belligerent runners (err rather stumblers), public urination, and lots of beer cans. Last year’s race left 30 tons of trash behind and had 26 ambulance trips to the hospital.

So now, the race’s for-profit organizer, Zazzle, says they’re “serious.” They’ve banned alcohol, floats, and unregistered runners. The city has joined in declaring that drunks will be sent to“sobering tents,” and that unregistered runners will be subject to criminal charges. There’s also some pretty, ah, unique campaigns such as the “potty hero” that rewards people who use the 1,200 port-a-potties stationed along the course.

But this isn’t the first time the city has warned of a crack down. Last year, even though the city issued similar threats, the police arrested less than a dozen people, in a race with more than 60,000 runners.

Would-be-crashers are complaining that the registration policy isn’t fair and a bit silly when people can easily buy a registration number on Craigslist to the sold-out event.

Despite all the safety talk, many folks are still planning to get their party on, preparing their costumes and contraband efforts. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Department of Public Works is preparing street sweepers, cleaning machines, and asking for volunteers.

Zazzle is also showcasing historical photos of the race at the Expo.

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