A Guide to Bay to Breakers

Get your sunscreen and sneakers ready for San Francisco’s annual running of Bay to Breakers. The tradition began in 1912, making Bay to Breakers the world’s oldest consecutively run annual footrace and also one of its craziest. Combining a mix of elite athletes and elite partiers, Bay to Breakers fuses sport and fun as no other event can. Costumed revelers, “centipedes,” families, and more will navigate the streets of San Francisco to the breaking waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Below, we’ve answered some of the more important questions to keep in mind for race day for both participants and for those who will not be involved in the race.

What should I expect at Bay to Breakers?

First and foremost, we must tell you that Bay to Breakers is not your average race. While many people are out for the run, many are also out for the fun. Expect to see people in costume, from fish to clowns to presidents to anything and everything else that comes to mind. There will be bands and DJs placed along the course to add to the festive atmosphere. Do not be surprised to see nudity during the race — though it is technically banned, some people choose to run free, though race numbers are required. Alcohol is not allowed on the course; beers will be sold at the Finish Line Festival.

What day is Bay to Breakers and what time does it begin?

As Bay to Breakers is a race, elite runners from around the world begin at 8am on Sunday, while more casual runners, families and walkers often don’t even pass the starting line until well after 10am.

What is the distance of Bay to Breakers and what direction does the route go?

Bay to Breakers is a 12k race beginning around the intersection of Main St. and Howard, close to the Embarcadero. As the name implies, the race goes from the Bay to the Breakers. It follows Howard for several blocks before turning to Fell St. From Fell, participants will run or walk through Golden Gate Park to the breakers down at Ocean Beach. There will be a Finish Line Festival at the end.

For those wishing to avoid the crowds, we recommend you stay north of Market St. For tourists, this does not affect most of the main sights. The Embarcadero, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Nob Hill, etc. should not be too affected by the crowds. However, expect bars and restaurants to be busy on Sunday evening.

Who can participate in Bay to Breakers?

Everyone! Whether an avid runner or a slow plodder, a sprightly octogenarian or a tumbling toddler, this race is for anyone who wants to partake. Even if you are here for the weekend only, Bay to Breakers is a wonderful way to experience San Francisco, see some sights, and have a good time. You can sign up as individuals or as groups, including centipedes. To register, click here.

Though young children can participate, strollers are not allowed on the racecourse, nor other wheeled devices including skateboards, bicycles, and roller blades.

Wheelchairs are permitted but must be registered. Email info@baytobreakers.com for more information.

Do I need to pick up race materials before Sunday?

Yes! Participants can pick up their race packets on Friday, May 16 (11am – 7pm), and Saturday, May 17 (9am – 5pm), at the Bay to Breakers Expo at the San Francisco Concourse & Exhibition Center at 635 8th St. If the participant is not able to pick up their packet, someone may do so for them providing they have the participant’s ID and order number.

When does registration for Bay to Breakers end?

The final days to register are May 16 and May 17 at the Bay to Breakers Expo.

What can I bring to the race?

Because of heightened security measures, only clear bags will be allowed at the race. Backpacks, bags, and containers are not allowed on the racecourse, nor is alcohol or any other illicit substance. Violators will be asked to leave the race.

What should I bring to the race?

  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Money
  • Snacks
  • Fully charged phone

For an idea of what else to bring, check out Huffington Post’s list here.

Will public transportation be running during the race?

Yes, as the race draws on average 50,000+ participants and another 100,000+ spectators, BART and CalTrains will have extra trains and more times. To view BART’s special race day timetable, click here. There will be special shuttles and buses from the finish line at Fulton.

For non-participants, expect large crowds and delays on public transportation.