San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers run celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, but some devotees are dismayed by new rules, including a ban on booze and floats. Race organizers say they want to make sure the event is fun for everyone, including for neighbors who are fed up with trash and public drunkenness. Will this year be any different?

Ed Sharpless, chair and founder of Citizens for the Preservation of Bay2Breakers
Jarie Bolander, president of the North Panhandle Neighborhood Association
Sam Singer, spokesperson for the Zazzle Bay to Breakers race

  • Rogue Walker

    I’m very excited to hear this show, as I have been trying to figure out whether or not to participate this year as a “rogue” walker.  It is hard to tell if there really will be a crackdown or if things will commence as usual!

  • Proud rogue walker

    It is illegal
    for AEG or the police to prevent you from entering any street or
    sidewalk. According to the City of San Francisco (ISCOTT) Conditions For
    Temporary Use of Streets:

    temporary use or occupancy of a public street shall not unnecessarily
    obstruct or bar public access onto said street. Sidewalks shall remain
    open at all times for pedestrian use unless closure of the sidewalk is
    provided for by resolution of the Board of Supervisors explaining the
    reasons for such closure.” 
    (see page 5 of ISCOTT rules for Temporary Street Closure revised 7/2008)

    The Board of Supervisors has passed no such resolution

  • Joelsdg

     I live in SOMA, if you’d like to come sit in my living room and watch the cross section of SF/Bay Area people urinate and defecate on my street for a day (100 times the “usual” number ;-)), feel free.  Then you will see why the crackdown is how we “deal with it”.Personally, I believe a middle ground is the most reasonable and will be attained in the coming years, after more trial and error. And yes, my wife and I are doing the race, and we paid.

  • Parader

    The overwhelming majority of people do not want to pee on neighbor’s stoops. Make it easy for us not to and you can better police the minority of people who are jerks.  And the answer to resourcing is tiered pricing.  We want to contribute, just not $75.

  • Haight11

     Just listened to this.  Ed the “rogue participant”- who does that?  What a smug, obnoxious, insufferable loser.  He doesn’t pay but he has the “right” to participate so what he can get drunk on the course?  Is that really a right?  I live in the Haight, and I have had just about enough of the bridge & tunnel crowd and Ed’s smug friends who think they have a right to participate but not pay a fee to support the race. Races have costs (porta potties, clean up) and they should be PAYING to support those costs, as really you could get drunk in your own home instead of asking the City/race to subsidize it. B2B is not a race if you are a runner/walker, and people should respect the neighborhoods. If I see one more frat boy peeing on my neighbors garage, I will call the police.  There is no regard for the community or the neighborhood as though it is a right to get drunk and pee in the streets, really?  The beginning of the race is fun and I enjoy watching, but by 3:00 p.m. it is just tiresome. 

    • RunningLady

      Castigating someone for not registering is way out of line. The fact is that AEG *capped registration* and left many thousands of loyal race participants out in the cold!  Ed cannot register if he tries. Also, Ed didn’t say he was going to behave obnoxiously, he’s just going to walk to race!  What happened to the time when Bay to Breakers was proud of being the biggest race in the world??  Now they are shutting their own loyal participants out.  I’ve heard people say “it’s your own fault if you didn’t register in time,” but that is bunk, because when there is a cap, then if one person registers in time, another is still left out. B2B is race, but it is not supposed to be a race to register in time!

      Also, the price of Breakers–$52, and then an astonishing $75, is far, far out of line with other 12k races, and gives a new meaning to the phrase “elite runner.”  There is a race in Washington State called Bloomsday, which used to have sort of a friendly rivalry with Breakers to be the world’s biggest race. Bloomsday is over 50,000 participants, and the course is strewn with trash after the race–for a matter of minutes.  They clean up fast and leave the streets cleaner than they found them. All for $15 per registrant!

      Breakers’ price tag is so high not because it costs that much to clean up, but because AEG is a for-profit company. What in the world are we doing letting a century-old, cherished tradition be left in the hands of a for-profit company??   Next year:  Oust AEG, uncap registration, and lower the price.

  • Burner

    Bay to Breakers should consult the Burning Man organization. They have done an amazing job containing large numbers of people, educating them prior to the event and at the gate, instilling them with the leave-no-trace mentality, and fostering an environment of radical self expression. Not to mention dealing with a huge portable bathroom operation, and attracting and training a huge volunteer clean up force.

    • Tencaf

      Any person who’s been to burning man typically applies that mentally to everyday life. Its simple and truly a wonderful thing. I’ve only been to B2B once (last year). I was in shock as to how disorganized and utterly chaotic it was. They definitely need some help. The BRC organization would be a great group to consult. Well said Burner!

  • SD

    I would love to know if ANY of these “race” runners that called in have ever driven through the GG Park on Monday morning.  It is horrible to see what is left behind. 

    My favorite part of the race is the beginning.  Those people who care enough to dress up in classic SF Bay to Breakers style and participate.  The end of the race is just plan scary and those are the people who end up wondering around the Sunset lost and confused. 

  • SFResident

    Do you know why they capped the registration at 55,000 this year? It seems that if the race organizers increased the number they would allow to register and lowered the registration cost, more would pay to participate. As it is now, registration is sold out.

  • Haight11

    I just listened and I feel completely annoyed by Ed Sharpless, who seems to feel it is his god given right to have a free ride.  You can get drunk and behave badly at home, as really is it the City’s responsibility to subsidize you?  Who does that, participates and doesn’t pay?  I agree the B2B is expensive but based on the clean up costs I can see why, as the amount of porta potties/trash costs a lot to clean up.  Anyone who isn’t paying- just know someone is paying for you!!!!  

    Ed and his loser friends are being subsidized by someone else, and surely there is a cause more worthwhile to get righteous about than B2B.  Really, is “Citizens for the Preservation of B2B” a cause?  Couldn’t you fight world hunger, or even SF issues than fighting for your right to get drunk on a Sunday?  Sad….

    I am a runner and I would never crash a race and ask the other participants to pay for me. The race is fun until about 1:00 and then it gets annoying when you have the drunken excess spill into the neighborhood and if I see one frat boy pee on my neighbors garage this year I will call the police.  If this year goes like the last few years, I trust that the race will be shut down as it really isn’t a race anymore and the City cannot afford to subsidize it as especially with the deficit there are children and vulnerable people that deserve that $$/support more than Ed and his loser friends. 

    • Non-Loser

      First, who you deem “Ed and his loser friends”, I would like to name “The people who care deeply about this City and the preservation of its culture”… 

      Second, it is said group, in particular, who made sure that the race was cleaned up after, that more porta potties were placed along the course, and who certainly do not sponsor Drunk Frat Boys Peeing On Your Neighbors Garage.Third, the City isn’t paying for said people. AEG is.

    • B2B Loyalist

      But, would you crash a race that you had run and enjoyed for years because when you went to register they told you it was “sold out”?  I’ve perused the B2B bib listings on Craigs List and I assure you there are many, many people who want to register who were told they cannot.  Should they just stay home?  The race belongs to people who love it and run/walk it. Not an out-of-town company with no interest in the race except profit. And if you believe profit is not AEG’s motive, they why do they keep the race? Charity to SF?  I don’t think so. 

    • Why don’t you figure out where the money is really going and coming from? Obviously this is the all too familiar corporate take over of a cherished tradition and it MUST STOP. As soon as AEG took over things went south with the event. They are simply making up false reports about trash or problems last year. I read all the papers after last year and what Sam Singer is saying is a lie. I read that he had to admit to being a liar after he lied in the Zoo mauling fiasco. Journalist should not print a single stat he quotes as credible. The city needs to STRIP THE RIGHTS from AEG and hand over to a NON-PROFIT group that is able to manage and carry on something so beloved.

  • Remember, San Francisco’s own mayor Gavin Newsom didn’t register in last year’s race along with another 35,000 people. The reason we (and Ed) aren’t registering this year is in protest of the rule changes and exorbitant fees charged by AEG. The gross profit from this event goes into the pocket of an anti-gay activist and Billionaire from Colorado, Philip Anschutz. Do you think that’s a good place for anyone’s money? We don’t think so, and we will continue to protest as is our right.

    It is illegal for AEG to prevent anyone from entering the closed off streets on Sunday. This is San Francisco law. So the idea that someone has to pay $75 to walk on the streets in their own city is absurd.

    AEG makes more than $5 million on Bay to Breakers and their costs are well under $1 million. Do you think the high registration fees are justified?

    In 1986, 110,000 people registered for Bay to Breakers and the event set the world record for the largest race in history. That was back when registration was cheap and B2B was run by a San Francisco non-profit. We need to return to the days of this event being run by a non-profit who will reduce registration fees, embrace the pageantry and traditions of this event and put the profits into neighborhood beautification projects and local charities.

  • Rowsdower

    Very interesting show!  The Panhandle Neighborhood president stated that this race has been declining “since 2007.”  AEG took the race over in 2006.  Hmmm…

  • Slo

    Before you start slamming Ed as a smug, obnoxious, insufferable loser, why don’t you do your homework. (Pay attention Haight11). In 2009, rules were put in place by race organizers that basically stripped the race of any sort of fun, whether you were sober or drunk. They attempted to eliminate costumes, nudity, floats and ban booze. As a lover of all things SF and B2B, Ed organized the “Citizens for the Preservation of Bay2Breakers”. The goal of this group was not to make it possible for people to pee in your front yard and litter your streets.  The goal was to work with the City of San Francisco and race organizers to come to an agreement and find ways that all participants could have fun and to ensure that people were not urinating and vomiting in public and in residents’ front yards. He put in countless hours of his own time, met with city officials, ING representatives and organized fundraisers. Said events raised several thousand dollars which were then used to place additional port-a-potties along the race route (I’m curious, Haight11, if you ever attended any of these fundraisers that would benefit your neighborhood or if you just complain about the people trying to solve the problem). He has continued to put in the same amount of work and research effort in 2010 and 2011. Unfortunately it seems that the goal of AEG is to suck the fun out of this SF tradition.
    Ed is not trying to avoid paying for the race, or have any citizen of San Francisco pay for him to “go out and get drunk on a Sunday afternoon”. By lowering the number of participants allowed, AEG has made it IMPOSSIBLE for people to pay, as RunningLady pointed out. I personally have participated, and PAID, more than 10 times since I was 13. I have never peed on anyone’s front lawn, or puked in their driveway.
    This race was started as a way to lift morale in San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake. It turned into a celebration of everything and everyone that make up this unique and eclectic city that we all love. In 1986 it made the Guinness Book of World Records with 110,000 participants. It attracts locals and people from all over the US and the world (which I might add, brings tourism $$$ to the city). It is sad to see that this 100 year tradition is being turned into just another 12k.

    • Daryl

      I agree with many of the commentors here on this board.
      Bring back a local non-profit as organizer of the race, lower entrance fees, place more porta-potties along the course and let the show go on. AEG out!

  • TZ

      San Francisco proudly hosts many festivals and events that have cultural and social significance and make San Francisco the uniquely wonderful place that it is.  Some folks always have the potential to spoil well-founded traditions, and the easy answer is to stop the tradition or change it significantly so as to lose its enticement.  The more difficult approach, however, is to preserve the tradition as it is and as it should be, as exemplified by Ed Sharpless and his coalition who are aiming to maintain the tradition and mitigate the unwanted behaviors of the few. I chastise only those who can’t maintain reasonable behavior, as does Ed. Capping the entry and placing bans on floats and alcohol is an offense to the citizens of San Francisco and to the tradition.

  • Check out this funny news clip. The end is all about Bay 2 Breakers.

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