Undercover running

Fish swim upstream at the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco.

Fish swim upstream at the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco.

This past weekend was the 100th running of San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers, a 7.46-mile race famous for its participants’ a) lack of clothing or b) ridiculous costumes.

Photos from the run conveniently leave out the nudie pics, but show a nice selection of Elvises, gnomes, ballerinas and those paying homage to the royal wedding. And what race would be complete without a shirtless man wearing glitter and giant angel wings?

The Peachtree Road Race discourages runners from wearing Breakers-style costumes — which makes sense, considering how many people there are. I’d imagine it’s hard enough not to knock into people without having to dodge, say, giant wings or gnome hats.

But that doesn’t stop some from getting into the spirit. Body paint, crazy hats and color-coordinated costumes — especially of the patriotic variety — all make appearances. I’ve personally never worn a costume for a run, but one of my favorite parts of large races like the PRR is seeing how creative people can get — and how they’re able to run with some of the stuff they wear or carry (when I did the Chicago Marathon, I kept pace with a guy who juggled three balls almost the entire run).

Running can be a serious sport, but sometimes it’s nice to see a little levity injected into the proceedings. Who knows? When you’re at Mile 5 and dragging, maybe it’ll be seeing the guy in the Uncle Sam beard and red and blue facepaint that pulls you through.

What do you think? What’s the best costume you’ve seen at a race? Have you ever worn anything crazy to run?

3 comments Add your comment


May 17th, 2011
12:49 pm

I ran near a man dressed as a turkey in the Atlanta Half Marathon last year (on Thanksgiving). It cracked me up because spectators yelled “Go turkey!” the whole time. It was a warm Thanksgiving, though, and he was pouring sweat when I saw his face for the first time after the finish line.

Gen Neyland

May 17th, 2011
2:35 pm

Costumed runners are a breed apart. I think it’s more a ‘See Me’ thing. And see you, we of regular (boring..?) running attire, do. I appreciate the fact that it’s you and not me that has the courage to dress outside the box. I’ll stick to boring and silently thank you for not being related to me (that’s a funny, not meant to harm)…


May 18th, 2011
3:08 pm

I ran many a race in colorful attire including B2B in 2006. This huge multi-hued extravaganza was big and heavy and warm. My friend and I design and construct our own costumes. I was dressed as a furry space alien and my pal a six-legged creature from Smot. It’s like running in your bed (if you can imagine) and pretty darn hot and painful. But hey, it’s make me a better runner with faster times when I’m only jogging in athletic apparel at a not so crazy race.