More than 40,000 running enthusiasts will take to the streets of San Francisco on Sunday 21 May 2017 in the 106th annual Bay to Breakers footrace, whose theme this year will be the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.
Following a tradition that dates back more than a century, the Bay to Breakers footrace begins at a location near the shores of San Francisco Bay and takes runners westward along city streets to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
San Francisco’s hilly topography makes the 12-kilometre, or 7.46 mile, route especially challenging.
Runners will have to ascend a very steep hill along the way to the Great Highway, which fronts windswept Ocean Beach.
Hundreds of thousands of well-wishers will line the streets of San Francisco to cheer runners on. Many runners and spectators will be dressed in colourful costumes.
There will be live bands, DJs, and other kinds of performances along the way.
And not all participants will run. Many participants will jog, and many others will amble along slowly, enjoying the festive atmosphere.
Schedule of Events
There's more to Bay to Breakers than the race itself. It is, in fact, an entire fun-filled weekend is planned.
A pre-event Expo featuring fitness technology, gear, and nutrition will be held at Pier 35 along The Embarcadero between the Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf on Friday 19 May between 11 am and 7 pm and on Saturday 20 May between 9 am and 5 pm.
Pier 35, 1454 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, California. Please note: Pier 35 should not be confused with Pier 39, which is a tourist attraction full of shops, food and beverage outlets, recreational facilities, and entertainment.
The race will depart from Main Street and Howard Street in downtown San Francisco at 8 am on Sunday 21 May.
The race will proceed along Market Street, San Francisco's main thoroughfare, past the Financial District and past Civic Center. This stretch is entirely flat.
Just past Civic Center, the route turns right on 9th Street and then left on Hayes Street, where the notorious Hayes Hill awaits.
The two-thirds of a mile stretch has an average incline of 5.6%, reaching 11% at its peak. Runners will continue past Alamo Square.
Runners will turn left at The Divisidero for one block and then right onto Oak Street, where they will travel along The Panhandle – an eight-block stretch of wooded parkland in an essentially residential neighborhood. It runs through the heart of the Haight-Ashbury.
The Haight-Ashbury, of course, was Ground Central for the Hippie Movement during the Summer of Love in 1967, which is the theme of this year's race.
They will continue into Golden Gate Park for the remainder of the race, ending at The Great Highway along Ocean Beach.
Finish Line Festival
A festival at the Finish Line will be held at Ocean Beach following the Bay of Breakers race. There will be live entertainment, food, and entertainment.
Summer of Love
If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair –
For a city with a population of just 805,235, San Francisco has surely inspired more than its fair share of hit songs.
Surely one of the most famous hit songs celebrating the City by the Bay is San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair), the biggest hit of Scott McKenzie (1939 – 2012).
Written by John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, the song was released in May 1967 to promote the Monterey International Pop Music Festival, which was going to be held the following month.
Monterey is actually about 120 miles south of San Francisco, and the trip along Highway One passes through some spectacular scenery.
So why did San Francisco get top billing rather than Monterey? It's quite simple, really.
The City by the Bay is more famous than Monterey, which most people outside of California have probably never heard of it.
While the song only took John 20 minutes to write, it was an instantaneous hit, reaching number four on the music charts in the United States and number one in Britain and other parts of Europe. The single sold more than 7 million copies worldwide.
The song resonated among disenchanted youth, many of them hippies, who were unhappy about America’s intervention in Vietnam War.
The song, in fact, is credited with inspiring as many as 100,000 young people from across the country and around the world to travel to San Francisco in what became known as the Summer of Love.
They gathered in the City’s Haight-Ashbury district, with many of them camping out in Golden Gate Park.
The song is often thought of as the unofficial anthem of the counter culture and Flower Power movements.
This year's Bay to Breakers race will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, with all aspects of the race commemorating iconic event. Does that mean tie-died T-shirts?
Fifty years on, the Summer of Love seems to have come full circle. When high school and college students started to arrive in San Francisco in the spring of 1967, civic authorities were not amused.
The arrivals got mixed reviews from locals, with some long-term residents welcoming them with open arms, and others wishing they would take the next jet plane home.
As for city officials, they did what they could to discourage the influx, but efforts to persuade what were being called the Flower Children from migrating to the city drew the attention of the national media, and the publicity that was generated only encouraged more hippies to Go West.
Talk about a classic case of an unintended consequence!
Now, the Summer of Love is cause for celebration. It has become a part of San Francisco's Collective Memory, rivaling the 1849 Discovery of Gold and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake as iconic moments in the history of one of the world's most iconic cities.
San Francisco might be situated in Sunny California, but the City by the Bay has a micro-climate thanks to a combination of factors, which I won't get into here.
Suffice it to say that Mark Twain once observed that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
The average temperature in May is a high of 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Centigrade) and a low of 51 degrees Fahrenheit (11 Centigrade).
Those temperatures might sound ideal. Thanks to the fog and the Arctic winds that often blow in from the Pacific Ocean, however, it can often seem much colder than the temperature suggests.
The weather can also change rather dramatically within a relatively short period of time.
There will be 10 different starting corals targeted at the pace Bay to Breakers participants want to take, ranging from less than six minutes per mile to more than 12 minutes per mile.
Included will be dedicated corals for walkers and for families.
If you haven't registered for the race yet, on-line registration will close at 12 midnight, 19 May 2017. Participants can also register in person at the Expo on 19 and 20 May.
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