If you are running in the May 15 Bay to Breakers race, you’ll be in historic company.
A record number of 55,000 registered runners have signed up for the 100th edition of San Francisco’s race from the city’s eastern edge to its western shore.
Race organizers had set a limit of 50,000 registrants, but that mark was reached in mid-March. So, they added 5,000 more slots, and those were filled by early April.
Those numbers don’t count the unregistered participants who will jump into the race or the 100,000 spectators expected to line the 12-kilometer course.
The start time is an hour earlier than previous years. Officials will send runners onto the course in waves, starting at 7 a.m.
Gina Antonini of Sam Singer Associates, the firm handling public relations for the race, said there will be security along the course to weed out unregistered runners. They’ll also be on the lookout for alcohol, floats and naked people, all of which are against the rules.
“With more than 50,000 runners, we can’t catch everybody, but we’ll do our best,” said Antonini.
Because this is the 100th race, there are special added features.
The Footstock after-race party at Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park will be bigger than usual.
The great-grandson of the race’s first winner, St. Mary’s College student Robert Vlught in 1912, will run the race carrying his great-grandfather’s trophy.
Any male runner that beats Vlught’s winning time of 44:10 or any women that bests the winning time of 50:45 of the first women’s champion, Dr. Frances Conley, in 1971, will have their race numbers retired.
Here are some interesting facts about the Bay to Breakers.
The first race was called the Cross City Race, on Jan. 1, 1912. It was organized to lift the spirits of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. It was also a precursor to the 1915 Pan Pacific Expo.
In that first race, 150 people ran. The record was set with 110,000 participants in 1986. The smallest field was in 1963 when 25 people ran.
The first costumed runner was in 1940 when one of the racers dressed up as Captain Kidd. He finished last.
The name of the event was changed from Cross City Race to Bay to Breakers in 1964.
Women weren’t officially allowed to run until 1971. In 1998, more women ran than men for the first time.
The youngest female champion was Maryetta Boitano in 1974. She ran the course in 43:22. She was 10.
The first centipede entry was organized by former University of California, Davis, runner Dwayne “Peanut” Harms in 1978. It had 13 members.
This year’s race is sponsored by Zazzle, a Redwood City online retailer of clothes, cards, office supplies and other products.