In case you haven’t heard, San Francisco’s combination of Bizarro Mardi Gras and a 12K road race known as the Bay to Breakers will never be the same if race sponsor ING has their way, and you have to figure they will.
According to the race website, “For everyone’s safety and enjoyment NO ALCOHOL, WHEELED OBJECTS or NUDITY will be allowed. Over-sized costumes must line up at the back and cannot be wheeled objects. Additionally, no pets, roller blades, skateboards, bicycles, or plastic bags for warm-ups are allowed on course.”
In my story about last year’s race (the first Bay to Breakers I’d ever seen) I wrote, ” Bay to Breakers puts together two of San Francisco’s favorite pastimes: fitness and drinking.” Now we’re about to introduce the other favorite pastime: protesting.
Just check out the message board following this blog post regarding the new Bay to Breakers rules on SF Gate today. They’re pretty much split between people going, “F-that! I’m just going to drink anyway, they can’t stop us,” and “I’m getting a little tired of people peeing on my house.”
After my first experience running about three miles down the course and then three miles back to the apartment (which was like a salmon swimming upstream, except for instead of swimming against a river current I was running through a mob of vodka-swilling girls wearing Britney Spears costumes and old men showing off their cranks), I saw everything that was great and terrible about the race.
While public drunkenness abounds, it’s the most peaceful mob of drunks America could put together. Nudity does exist, but any parent who feels the need to take their kids to the Bay to Breakers should think about instead entering, I don’t know, one of the 200 other races in Northern California that take place every year.
The one truly offensive part of Bay to Breakers is the public urination. When I finished my run, there were no less than four people on my block peeing in full view at the same time. One guy on a tree, one guy on a garage door, one girl crouched between two parked cars on the street and one fellow who didn’t even worry about hiding. He just indiscriminately sprayed the sidewalk, his eyes closed and head tilted back as if he were midstream during a 3 a.m. piss in his apartment.
The ones who want to keep partying alive ask for more porta-potties, which were badly needed nearly everywhere during last year’s race. The lines in Alamo Square Park were extremely long, leaving those who really HAD to go almost no choice but to find a driveway or risk ruining their Borat costume.
ING probably figures, “We don’t want anybody to drink anyway, so why would we spend more money for porta-johns?” Maybe the solution is to have some toilet-related company like American Standard or Clorox to sponsor the race, provide more toilets and teach all of us the value of safety through hygiene. Because everybody knows nothing ruins a good race worse than a staph infection.
Here’s the deal. The ones with money are the ones who were complaining — those lucky enough to actually own land in San Francisco. I rent, so I had a harder time caring when I saw that girl squatting in the driveway next door when I left the house that morning. Rich people use ING for whatever ING does, and the complaints of well-moneyed citizens who care about things like “front doors” and “flower gardens” led to this.
Those who see the street cleaners zoom by with their hoses at 1 p.m. and make the course look like nothing happened know the damage caused by the Bay to Breakers party is short-term, but the race will never be the same.
After all, many thought Halloween in the Castro would never go away. It did. There will be those who think they can outnumber the cops enough to keep drinking and nudity alive in May’s Bay to Breakers. They can’t. Once the first 55-year-old naked guy gets pulled kicking, screaming (and flopping) into a squad car, the party will be over.