Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Race By The Bay
When I was in San Francisco last week, little did I know I was witness to a minor sporting kerfuffle. I dropped my wife off at the airport Sunday morning and headed back into San Francisco. My plan was to rent a bicycle and ride out to Tiburon for the day. I street parked a few blocks from the waterfront to save on garage fees and walked down to the Pier 41 area. There I ran into the bulk of the runners from the Nike Women’s Marathon that was running along the waterfront.
I knew the marathon was in town because the registration booth was in Union Square just a few blocks from our hotel. In fact, I was lucky to get a room for Saturday night since so many people were coming in from out of town. But I wasn’t quite ready for the sheer volume of women dressed in all sorts of variations of pink and purple. I think over 7,000 women entered the event and they all seemed to be coming by at once.
The sidewalks were crammed with cheerers waving signs and hooting on their friends. Most of the runners were serious but plenty were not. They were wearing tiaras and angel wings and silly hats. Some were walking already, but I nearly got run over by a few that decided the sidewalk was the path of least resistance.
Since the bike rental shops weren’t open yet, I broke for breakfast and came back about 8:30. By the time I filled out the rental agreement and got the bike, the straggler van was slowly going down the road chasing the few that were completely out of energy at Mile 3. Not that I have any room to criticize since that would meet my personal best, but they did know they signed up for a marathon, didn’t they?
The waterfront bike path met up with race course about half-way to the Golden Gate Bridge and I had to dodge a fair number of runners until the bike path split off again. I wouldn’t see the runners again until I went up the path from Fort Point back to the main road. There another tourist couple were cowed by all the women on the road until a local came by and showed us how the path went alongside the road and missed the runners. That very nice couple was also nice enough to take my "proof I was there" picture.
And that was the last of the runners I saw since their course from their turned south towards Golden Gate Park. I crossed the bridge, got briefly lost at Fort Baker, had second breakfast in Sausalito, took a detour through Mill Valley and had a late lunch/early dinner overlooking the water in Tiburon.
Meanwhile, back at the marathon, a lady running with the hoi polloi had a career best time, crossed the finish line seventh overall, but beat the ‘winner’s’ time by twenty minutes. Nike mumbled, backtracked, and finally ponied up a prize for her as well. It seems there is some confusion between the concept of ‘fastest runner’ and ‘first across the finish line’ and it’s an argument I’m not qualified to address.
The women that finished the marathon, ran, jogged, walked, or danced further that day than I had ridden a bicycle. I say all the women that day, no matter what they were wearing or how fast they ran or even if they made it to the finish, were winners.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: A special Stan Lee commemorative NoPrize to whoever can identify the beer I'm drinking. A Super Deluxe NoPrize to anyone that can guess the waterfront establishment I'm at.