Breakers race outruns Boston bombing fears

Jacob Winick , Staff Writer

 

With a bottle of beer in one hand, and wearing nothing besides blue paint, it may not come as a surprise that the Boston Marathon bombings were the last thing on 28-year-old Michael Bennett’s mind.

“Anytime you go to a public event, there is a risk of something going wrong,” said Bennett, a resident of Truckee, Calif.

“If I were that worried about (a terrorist attack), I would never get out. Besides, driving home is more of a risk than being here.”

Thousands of runners and fun seekers gathered near the Embarcadero Center on May 19 to take part in the annual 2013 Bay to Breakers.

The Bay to Breakers is, at its core, a 12-kilometer race across the city, but arrive after 9:00 a.m. and one would be hard pressed to spot a pair of running shoes in between the countless drunks dancing to live music.

“Today is all about fun. I normally love San Francisco, but I especially love it today. It is a chance to forget about the real world and just go crazy,” said Douglass Mills, a resident of Orange County.

“I have been coming here for about 25 years. It is about the energy and the fun,” said Nancy Tucker, who makes the annual trip from Orange County to run in the Breakers race.

While Boston is still recovering from the bombings and subsequent manhunt that took place beginning on April 15, just one month later, it was business as usual for those at the 2013 Bay to Breakers.

Despite the lack of concern from many of the participants, security measures were taken by law enforcement to prevent any similar attacks.

Although he was unable to give a definite figure as to the number of police at the event, Lt. Michael Caplan of the San Francisco Police Department said that the police presence was beefed up this year. “We have by far more officers this year than last year and that is a direct result of what happened in Boston,” he said.

According to the local ABC news affiliate, the race drew an estimated 80,000 participants. The San Francisco Chronicle’s website at sfgate.com reported that 30,000 runners registered for the race, down from a reported 40,000 registered runners in 2012.

Many participants, including 43-year-old San Francisco native Elizabeth Gordon, were motivated to take part in the Bay to Breakers because of the bombings.

“I am running for those affected by Boston,” Gordon said. “(The bombings) made me want to come here to show that people should not be afraid. Life moves on.”

Some even went so far as to use the race to demonstrate American resilience.

“When I first heard about the Boston Marathon, I was concerned, but if they’re going to do it they’re going to do it. This fear was also around regarding flights after 9/11,” said Ian Morris, an Orange County resident who declined to give his age.

“If it happens, it happens,” Morris said. “We can’t allow ourselves to be terrorized. That is how they win.”