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Track Suit, Gorilla Suit, Same Diff 

Wednesday, May 11 2011
In 2009 in San Francisco, Sammy Kitwara ran what’s believed to be the fastest 12k race ever at 33 minutes, 31 seconds. In 2010, he won the same race for a second consecutive year with a time of 34 minutes, 15 seconds. On that course was also a man in a pink gorilla suit, a group of Star Wars stormtroopers, scores of people not clothed at all, and three women dressed as female genitalia. We have no idea what any of their finishing times were, and they probably don’t either. That’s because it was Bay to Breakers, where things are as serious (or not) as you want them to be (or don’t). It’s a race. It’s a costume contest. (No. Seriously. It has a costume contest.) It’s a reason to watch and laugh and shout and, well, whatever the heck else you want (including run the race). It’s a San Francisco tradition that goes back 100 years. The course starts in SOMA, goes through the Haight and the Panhandle, and continues through the park to finish at the ocean. Registration is full at this point, but there’s still the option to run the race without a number or find a good viewing spot to socialize and spectate. And it really is one of the biggest spectacles of the year, drawing roughly 50,000 participants and 100,000 watchers, according to organizers. Unfortunately, over the years it has led to other traditions, including public drunkenness, massive amounts of litter, and a big headache for people who live along the course. As a result, no alcohol and no floats will be allowed this year. But as for costumery, do your worst. The pink gorilla suit is only the start.
Sun., May 15, 7 a.m., 2011

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Keith Bowers


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