After years of watching, it’s now time to participate

After spending several years in the crowd, Caroline Annis will finally cross over to compete in this year’s Bay to Breakers. And even though Annis will be looking to push the pace as one of the elite runner’s in the women’s field, don’t expect the Stanford graduate to blow by her old post without a second glance.

“I’ll definitely look over to the sidelines and check everything out,” Annis said. “That’s the fun thing about Bay to Breakers — it reminds you that you’re running because you enjoy it.”

Annis is one of a number of top runners in the field of this year’s race with local ties. The 26-year-old was a former All-American in cross country for the Cardinal and currently lives in The City and works as a manager in the clinical operations department at Genentech. Her career highlight came in 2005, when she was the No. 2 American woman finisher at the Boston Marathon (in a personal-best 2 hours, 43 minutes, 43 seconds), and this is one of her first competitive races after suffering a stress fracture in her left fibula seven months ago.

“I’m just getting back so I’m concentrating on feeling good and having fun,” Annis said. “Hopefully I can finish among the top Bay Area runners.”

Other top local women include Oakland’s Lewy Boulet and Sausalito’s Chris Lundy.

On the men’s side, Tommy Greenless of Walnut Creek could be the favorite among local runners. The 25-year-old physical education teacher at Foothill Middle School in his hometown has already met the requirements for this fall’s Olympic qualifier at the marathon distance and finished 12th in last year’s Bay to Breakers (38 minutes, 14 seconds). He came away from the race impressed not only with the pageantry, but the difficulty of the course as well.

“I’d heard about that [Hayes Street Hill] for a while, but I didn’t really believe it — that was real tough,” Greenless said. “But it’s a great race because sometimes you’re trying to run as fast as you can and you’ll see something and you can’t help but smile.”

Greenless could be challenged for Bay Area supremacy by John Mentzer of Monterey.

BAY TO BREAKERS

WHEN: Sunday, 8 a.m.

COURSE: 12 kilometers, starting at the Embarcadero and finishing in Golden Gate Park near Ocean Beach

DEFENDING CHAMPS:

Men — Gilbert Okari

Women — Tetyana Hladr

OTHER EVENTS:

» Greater Body Expo: Today, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove St. (free admission)

» Footstock: Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Polo Field, Golden Gate Park (free admission)

» Costume Contest: Sunday, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Polo Field, Golden Gate Park

melliser@examiner.com

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