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Bay to Breakers Runners Celebrate Centennial

Tens of thousands of people, many from the Peninsula, joined the fun.

Tens of thousands of runners crossed the finish line Sunday morning for a centennial 7-mile footrace through San Francisco.

Roughly 55,000, 2011 Zazzle Bay to Breakers runners hit the city streets at 7 a.m. by San Francisco Bay and finished at Ocean Beach on the western end of Golden Gate Park, race officials said.

Commemorating "100 Years Running," runners came from all over the world to participate.

First place finisher Ridouane Harroufi, 29, from Morocco, ran the 7.46-mile race in 34 minutes 26 seconds, race officials said.

The first Bay Area runner to finish was Bolota Asmerom, 32, of San Francisco, who ran the course in 36 minutes 40 seconds and placed eighth overall, officials said.

Kenyan runner Lineth Chepkuri, 23, won the women's race for the third year in a row, according to race officials. Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, 37, of Oakland, was the first Bay Area woman to finish, placing sixth among the women in 41 minutes 26 seconds.

Other runners came from as far as Arizona to participate in the 100th annual race-celebration. Tucson residents Janis Leibold, 53, and her sister Diane Leibold, 54, were clad in pink flamingo hats. "Running (Bay to Breakers) has been on my bucket list since I was 26 and now I'm 53," first-time participant Janis Leibold said.

Arriving from Fairfield, first-time Bay to Breaker participants Aren and Derek Pace, both 25, decided to run the course in the buff, creatively covering a few body parts.

"I felt freer than I've ever felt," Aren Pace said about running wearing more face paint than clothing. Both said they were asked to be in many pictures along the run.

A group of "shower curtain mummy" women, wearing pink ponchos in anticipation of rain showers that were narrowly avoided, had run the Bay to Breakers together for four years. With a new race sponsor—Redwood City-based Zazzle—and changes to race regulations, group member Lisa Vail, 50, of San Francisco, said this year was much tamer, though she still caught views of a few naked runners.

Sacramento resident Hope Gawlick, 33, said she still saw drinking on the course, but "it didn't seem worse than usual" compared to her previous years at the race.

Dressed as Splinter, a Japanese mutant rat from the television series "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," Daniel High, 25, from Menlo Park, said this year's Bay to Breakers race was more mellow. 

"They cracked down this year," High said.

San Francisco resident Joel Fossourier said the biggest difference from his previous five races was no floats. With floats officially banned this year, he said traffic was smoother and the party vibe was quelled, as participants had nowhere to hold large quantities of alcohol.

"The floats contribute to more drinking," he said. "Obviously there was some drinking, but it was more of a race though still colorful."

Hundreds of people also came out early this morning, but not to run the 12 kilometers. Aside from spectators, volunteers filled the city to run water stations, first aid booths, communication centers and other Bay to Breakers resource stations.

Dan Yee, 66, a retired teacher from Washington High School in San Francisco, was out for a tenth year of volunteering at Bay to Breakers. Yee brought 150 Washington student volunteers to the race, who passed out medals or worked at water stations or at the timing booth.  

At the finish line water station, De Anza College Circle K volunteer John Draculan, 25, of Sunnyvale, handed water to runners. "It's pretty exciting," Draculan said, standing in front of a massive stack of water bottles. "Makes me want to run it next time."

American Red Cross volunteers were scattered throughout the course, with about 150 Bay Area volunteers, said Livermore resident Eva Islas, 20, at the lost children booth.

Islas, who arrived at 4:30 a.m. for race set-up, said someone had passed out, but the first aid tents had been dealing with more typical running issues such as hurt knees and ankles and dehydration.

"I also saw a few naked people," she said. "That was a shocker."

--Bay City News

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