The City’s annual race returns

The world's most colorful footrace will once again streak through San Francisco on Sunday, turning heads with its speed and costumes alike.

An estimated 70,000 runners, walkers and revelers will shut down streets as the Bay to Breakers race makes its way across town. The 7.5-mile course bisects San Francisco, starting near the Embarcadero and ending up at Ocean Beach. While the race attracts a number of serious runners, who compete for cash with times of well under an hour, the majority of the participants walk or jog, often hindered by costumes.

For the more race-minded participants, this year's competition comes with a few new twists. The 12 elite women will start 4 minutes and 40 seconds earlier than the elite men because that is the difference between the course records. “At the end, the men will catch up with the women and it will be this great battle of the sexes,” Lamott said. The overall winner will take home a $25,000 bonus prize, as well as the $7,000 prize for winning in his or her gender.

There will also be a $5,000 prize for the first person in each gender to make it to the top of the Hayes Street hill.

Race spokeswoman Denise Lamott said Mayor Gavin Newsom usually makes good time — about an hour — and this year's competition will also include Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who has recently been participating in five-kilometer events around the state as part of his pledge to drop 50 pounds as he runs for state insurance commissioner.

But the race is only part of a whole day of fun. Near the finish line, at the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park, the annual Footstock concert and costume contest will feature alternative rockers Better than Ezra.

amartin@examiner.com

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