SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An estimated 40,000 runners took to the streets Sunday for the iconic and offbeat San Francisco footrace Bay to Breakers, an event famed for the mingling of committed racers with scantily clad revelers in a party-like atmosphere.
The 7-mile-plus race, celebrating its 103rd anniversary, is one of the oldest footraces in the nation. The winners crossed the finish line in under an hour after an equipment problem along the route delayed the start time by nearly 30 minutes. Geoffrey Kenisi of Kenya won the men’s race with an official time of 35:10, and Diane Johnson of Burundi repeated as the women’s winner with an official time of 40:10.
While elite runners take the race seriously with its more than $70,000 in prize money, the event also has long been known for its colorful costumes, nude runners, drinking, and irreverent, decadent environment. More than 100,000 spectators were expected to take in the festivities.
Along with a group of barely dressed friends, Tom Jerkins, 21, of Seattle, planned to crash the race wearing nothing but a Speedo and lime green socks — along with his running shoes, of course.
“Is there a problem?” Jerkins said. “I’m just trying to go with the flow.”
Registered runners Tarrek Smith, 37, and Kelsey Lazich, 23, both of San Jose, say they have no problem with the anticipated debauchery.
“If you can’t tolerate it, sign up for another race,” Smith said.
Runners Trish Hoy, 16, of South San Francisco, and her boyfriend, Raymond Breault, 15, of Brisbane, were dressed as “Beauty and the Geek,” with Hoy wearing a tiara and a sash that read, “Miss B2B 2014 Runner-up.”
The teens, who are registered for the race, said their parents had no problem with their participation.
“It’s all about having fun and a safe time,” Hoy said.
San Francisco police said four people were arrested by midday Sunday, two of them for public intoxication. Last year, 21 people were arrested for public intoxication.
Organizers say alcohol, wheeled objects like strollers and skateboards, and certain types of bags and containers are banned from the race course as officials maintain heightened security in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
“At the same time, the city and race organizers have worked hard to make sure the race is safe, fun, sober and civil,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said.
Tragedies have marked past races. Last year, a man died after falling off a building during a Bay to Breakers viewing party, and another man was never found after apparently going into the water at Ocean Beach after the race. In 2012, a man died weeks after he was severely injured in a fight after the event.