The Bay to Breakers Experience

Bay to Breakers in San Francisco
The Bay to Breakers mob builds

If you combine 1 tablespoon Sunday morning road-race, 2 cups all-American street festival, 3 kilos drug-induced halloween party, and 4 hearty handfuls of San Francisco fairy dust, you’ve got yourself the annual Bay to Breakers 12k foot race in downtown San Francisco.

Bay to Breakers in San Francisco Party
Partying on Fell Street during the Bay to Breakers celebration

Bay to Breakers is an annual foot race which takes place in San Francisco, California on the 3rd Sunday of May. The name “Bay to Breakers” comes from the race course itself, which starts at the northeast end of the city (adjacent to San Francisco Bay) and runs west through the city to finish at the Great Highway adjacent to the Pacific coast (where breakers crash onto Ocean Beach). I don’t know if it was the ridiculous costumes, beautiful San Francisco views or the public nudity that made B2B the largest footrace in the world from 1986 until 2010, but I do know all of that combined makes one hell of a party.

Bay to Breakers Naked People San Francisco
Bay to Breakers Flashes the San Francisco Spirit

The first Bay to Breakers was ran in 1912 to lift civic morale in San Francisco after a devastating earthquake rocked the city. Since that point, Bay to Breakers has lived on “as a testament to San Francisco’s uniqueness and audacity. Each year the race is a glorious celebration of the human spirit – a giant wave of athleticism, fun, frivolity, and determination flowing across the City from the Bay to the Pacific ocean.” – B2B History

The 100th annual Zazzle sponsored race began at 7am and was followed by the “Footstock Festival” at Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park. The Footstock featured food booths, a beer and wine garden, music entertainment and the annual costume contest.

Bay to Breakers Party in San Francisco
Club 54 Party at Bay to Breakers in San Francisco

My Bay to Breakers experience started just before 9:30am on Sunday morning, as I fought through tight traffic and closed streets in search of parking. I managed a semi-legal spot on Pierce and Page, just a few blocks from all the festivities.

As I approached the massive crowd migrating down Fell Street, I realized I was very late and WAY over dressed.

Within minutes of joining the flamboyant mob, I narrowly escaped shear disaster as I looked up after adjusting my camera to barely dodge a bent over naked guy tying his shoes. I vowed to keep my head on a swivel and avoid bending down to tie my own shoes at all cost.

With all the people watching, I didn’t realize how far I’d been walking, nor where I was going, but it really didn’t matter. House parties lined the streets to provide impromptu dance parties and drink stops along the way. There were Disney characters hooking up, smurfs bumping lines, a priest with a 10-foot, vodka-filled crucifix. Oh yeah and lots and lots of skin. Unfortunately, about 75% of which I could have done without.

Bay to Breakers in Golden Gate Park
Finishing strong in Golden Gate Park

When we reached Golden Gate Park around noon people scattered around the grass to relax, play volleyball or just pass out. I decided to exit the Bay to Breakers celebration when I witnessed a big furry polar bear one-punch a guy dressed as little red riding hood for stealing a magic wand from a princess.

I was way too sober and didn’t have nearly enough glitter to continue…

A casualty of Bay to Breakers
Your father would be so proud.

The Bay to Breakers experience was amazing and I definitely want to return one day with a bigger entourage and more creative attire… maybe I’ll actually run next time.. or maybe I’ll just break out the birthday suit.

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


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