No longer late breaking news, but here are my two cents on even the thought that Bay to Breakers will cease to have the rowdy, drunken, naked revelry that it is so well known for.
Tuesday, race officials and sponsors announced they will be enforcing new rules, specifically:
- Zero tolerance policy on alcohol. Anyone openly drinking alcohol or displaying public drunkenness will be subject to fines and prosecution.
- All wheeled objects and floats are prohibited. Inappropriate equipment on the streets is dangerous and can prevent runners and walkers from completing the race in a timely manner.
- Leave no footprint. Additional dumpsters will be placed along the course for trash.
I’d like to highlight the second bullet point (we’ll cover number one in a second). Where in the race procession do carts ever inhibit runners from completing the race? If you’ve ever been to Bay to Breakers you are well informed of the pecking order. It looks something like this:
- Any other elite runner attempting to beat the Kenyans
- Amateur white runners trailing behind elite runners
- Some joggers
- Costumed joggers
- Floats, drinkers and partiers bringing in the rear
- Salmon swimming upstream, although their order changes due to obvious direction constraints.
Now back to first bullet point. They can’t even get the proper number of port-a-potties right for this race that has been known for the last few decades to draw crowds in excess of 100,000 people. How on earth do they think they can enforce fines on people drinking?
Which brings me to the “Leave no footprint” point. I’m a runner, I’m also a Bay to Breakers fan for the character and insanity of the race. It’s the single event that I know of, where runners and non-runners alike can have fun and enjoy the day in a time honored San Francisco tradition. I do not like peeing in public, or during races. While I didn’t run the race last year, but rather “participated”, I was subjected to the lack of port-a-potties. Not once, not twice, but at least three times. At that point, my memory began to fade… Point being, there have never been enough port-a-potties. They had 500 last year, which was an increase from 400 in ’07. How is that enough? That equates to approximately 69 (how appropriate) potties per mile. And we know they jam a bunch at the start and even more at the finish. What’s so silly about this is that 75% of the people never make it past mile 5. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have MORE potties along miles 1-5? I can tell you, I was not a happy camper peeing in a driveway in NOPA in a line with about 9 other women. But my bladder was full and I was in pain, I had no choice! People don’t run around peeing in public because they want too, especially women.
Reactions from the public have been typical. No one approves of this. The event Facebook page is littered with comments of disapproval. My favorite:
Joshua Bolitho: If this ban goes through, I hope the skies rain urine.
Others have openly voiced their disapproval of headline sponsor ING. While I think it’s silly to blame ING, as I doubt they had much to do with this. After all, as a sponsor, they would just not sponsor the race if they cared about being associated with such a disastrous event.
In an effort to encourage registrations and handle this PR nightmare, the B2B team is twittering. My favorite: INGB2Breakers: @jgaddi People that want 2 drink alcohol can still do so at Footstock, a gathering at the end of the race. U should still run the race!
So all those people who don’t run, are now encouraged to run and then drink and be stranded in Golden Gate Park. Fantastic.
This should make for a very interesting May 17th. I will not be participating this year, as I will be ramping up my IM training and likely running (with no alcohol) that day a long distance and preferably no where near the city. I don’t want to witness the mayhem that this is sure to become.