On Sunday, May 20th, over 40,000 official competitors and thousands of unofficial ones, took to the streets of San Francisco to participate in 101st Bay to Breakers, the city's most famous road race. Started in 1912 to bring some cheer to the residents following the devastating 1906 earthquake, the unique event celebrates not only athleticism, but also, the fun-loving spirit of the people of San Francisco.
The annual race is the only competition where some of the world's fastest runners share the starting line with adults dressed in all kinds of imaginative costumes. This year's line up included a banana, a team camouflaged as the Golden Gate Bridge, a group of bridesmaids and even, a refrigerator-sized airstream trailer.
Amongst all this mayhem many people forget that this is a real race - one that carries with it a grand prize of $25,000USD. It is therefore not surprising that it attracts elite runners from all over the world. As has been the case in many years past, this year's overall winner came from Kenya. Sammy Kitwara, who has won this race twice before, took home $12,000 USD for crossing the finish line in an impressive 34 minutes and 40 seconds.
The overall women's winner was Mamitu Daska from Ethiopia. She reached the finish line in 39 minutes and 2 seconds. However, because the elite women runners are given a 4.5 minute lead over the elite male runners, she was the first to reach the finish line, an honor that earned her a whopping $25,000 USD. She then tagged on another $12,000 USD for being the first female to finish and the first athlete to climb the notorious Hayes Street Hill, that rises from sea level to a height of 215 feet, in five short city blocks.
The banana, donned by 25-year old Mark Denari didn't do too shabbily either, reaching the finish line in less than an hour - Quite impressive given that the suit weighed over 10-pounds. While he was the first banana and first fruit overall, he was outrun by Flash and Batman! Though neither won any money, they did go home with bragging rights.
As with most San Francisco events, this one too ended with parties held in private homes, as well as, some of the city's finest restaurants. After a day of fun, all the participants trekked home to check their calendars for other upcoming events - That's because there is always something exciting going on in this beautiful city where people love to have a good time!
Resources: huffingtonpost.com, sfgate.com, sfexaminer.com,wikipedia.org