Arts + Culture

The Checklist: Sporting Events

by Josh Dean

ING BAY TO BREAKERS 12K RACE

Where: San Francisco, California

Play along: The Bay to Breakers is one of the world's largest footraces, with an astounding 65,000-plus runners. What makes it a can't-miss affair is the attitude—San Francisco loves to do things its own way. This is a one-of-a-kind hybrid of sport and performance art. The masses assemble along Howard Street and get things going with a tortilla toss (flour discs are tossed around the crowd like Frisbees), and then they set out for the 12-kilometer (7.5 mile) walk/run/jog/hop across the city. The route passes over San Fran's rolling hills and dales and through Golden Gate Park, and ends at the crashing waves of Ocean Beach. Many competitors take their costumes, though, more seriously than their race pace. You'll see people dressed up as knights, wizards, Star Wars Stormtroopers, French maids, dinosaurs…just about any outfit you can imagine, down to nothing (though technically banned, nudity is not uncommon—hey, it's San Francisco). Most famous among the bedecked are "the spawning salmon," a team of runners in fish costumes who race backwards from the finish, attempting to run "upstream" to the start line.

How to score a ticket: Buy a bib and get in the race yourself (fees start around $40). If you're just there to watch, the best spot is on Fell Street, along the Panhandle and into Golden Gate Park.

When: The third Sunday in May.

For more information: 415-359-2800; www.ingbaytobreakers.com

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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