Bay to Breakers jumps on wagon
By Joshua Sabatini
Examiner Staff Writer 2/12/09
Barrage of complaints: New rules are being imposed in response to requests to address the issue of alcohol on the racecourse, according to organizers of the Bay to Breakers. Examiner file photo SAN FRANCISCO – The wild partying that has become synonymous with the annual ING Bay to Breakers will be toned down this year with a ban on pushing wheeled objects, nudity and drinking.
Last year, the San Francisco race — which attracts as many as 60,000 participants, who are a mix of serious athletes, novices and costumed partiers — drew the ire of residents along the 7.46-mile course. Although complaints about litter, drunkenness and public urination accompany the event, which is held the third Sunday of May and is a mix between a marathon and Madri Gras, last year’s race saw an explosion of complaints.
“Last year’s Bay to Breakers was one of the worst events I’ve ever experienced in the park,” said Ray Holland, president of the Planning Association for the Richmond district. “People were coming into our neighborhood and urinating on our front lawns and on our doorsteps. It was gross.”
In response to the complaints, race organizers on Wednesday unveiled new rules for the 98th annual event, including a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol, a ban on nudity, prohibition of wheeled objects and floats and a leave-no-footprint policy to crack down on littering.
Angela Fang, general manager of the race, said the new rules are in response “to the community and city leaders who increasingly have asked us to address the issue of alcohol on course.”
In the past, event organizers have attempted to curtail the booze-guzzling and other wild partying, but to no avail. Now, they promise there will be consequences.
For this year’s event, organizers are working with the Police Department to finalize specific enforcement plans, which may include public-intoxication checkpoints conducted in certain areas, according to Fang.
The event has also become a challenge when it comes to cleanup. About 35 tons of trash was collected after the event last year — everything from litter to abandoned floats, a boat and sofas on wheels.
“Last year was pretty bad,” said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, whose district includes a segment of the race course. “I hope that this works without subverting the fun.”
Fang promised the event will stay “focused on fun” and that people will still be encouraged to show up in costume.
“Don’t worry, you’ll still be allowed to dress up as Michael Phelps taking a bong hit,” said Nathan Ballard, spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom. “But you cant do a beer bong during the race.”
AEG, organizer of Bay to Breakers, shares the same owners as Clarity Media, which oversees The San Francisco Examiner.
Changes afoot for Bay to Breakers
A handful of changes will be made to this year’s ING Bay to Breakers and for future races, in response to complaints from the community and city leaders.
Change: All wheeled objects and floats will be prohibited
Effect: Runners and walkers should have a clearer path with the equipment off the course
Change: A zero-tolerance policy will be instituted
Effect: Anyone drinking alcohol or displaying public drunkenness will be subject to fines and prosecution
Change: More trash receptacles will be placed along the course
Effect: Course could end up being cleaner after race if more participants use trash cans
Change: Runners of different time groups will be grouped in corrals at the start line
Effect: The new system could keep runners who are serious about running the race more separated from others, or faster runners from slower ones
Source: ING Bay to Breakers
Staff Writer Will Reisman contributed to this report.