Bay to Breakers presented by Craigslist is one of the world's largest and oldest footraces, featuring world-class athletes in addition to costumed runners. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
THE NEXT CENTURY: So, say you had your 100th birthday party a couple of years back, your big centennial, the whole fabulous whoop-di-doo. What to do after that? Do you go with something quiet for your 101st, or 102nd, something low-key, or do you invite thousands of people to costume up, come back, and do it all over again? Obviously the latter, if you're Bay to Breakers. It isn't often that a venerable sporting event, one that has oodles of historic moments and athletic accomplishments to spare, is also known as one of the most outlandish and free-spirited happenings on the running calendar. But not every venerable sporting event can be in San Francisco. The run, which hoofs it over 12 kilometers from the Embarcadero to the Pacific, is famous for a few things. For some serious hills (yep, there are hills in San Francisco, spoiler alert). For people who move their feet really fast over a dozen consecutive kilometers (top athletes are regulars). But mostly? For the costumes, the hairstyles, and the desire to rock the race in a memorable, highly photographable way.
DATES AND DETAILS: The 102nd Bay to Breakers is set to run on Sunday, May 19. Registration is open to runners and walkers both; get on it by May 16. You are certainly welcome to participate in traditional running gear, shorts and a tank, but if you decide to dress up, eye the costume contests ahead of time. We're sweet on Most Creative Group, if only because it can be hard to wrangle more than one person at a time. (This collective won for showing as the gang from Clue.)
ZANY, SWEATY, HEART-POUNDING: Is Bay to Breakers a patriarch of all of the other zany races now afoot? The runs where color dyes are thrown your way? The glow-in-the-dark jogs? We're absolutely eager to give some credit. So the next time you're in a run where you have to eat a cupcake at every mile marker, give a thought to San Francisco, which has been pairing weirdness and fitness for many a decade.