Boycott Called on 2009 Anschutz ING Bay to Breakers, Showdown Skedded for Thursday

Tonight, the kids are bummed because “ING ignores citizens’ requests to collaborate on Bay to Breakers!” Uh oh. The latest communique from some of the people against changing the 98-year-old tradition:

“Talks with race officials stalled. We are boycotting all race registration until further notice. We are calling for runners and non-runners to unite in this effort.”

Well, aint that America? It would seem the next chapter in this tale will take place Thursday morning at 9:00 AM, when permits will be discussed:

Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation (ISCOTT)
Thursday, February 26, 2009
1 South Van Ness Ave, Room #7080
San Francisco, CA

The horror, the horror of the 2008 Bay to Breakers Civic Parade. Are these Ivy-League, U.C., and Stanford grads really “bandits” and “thieves?”

via Dave Shumaker

Of course the organizers of B2B are proud that they get ink from the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, which gives sports fans a bucket list of 101 things to do before they die:

84. Bay to Breakers (May, San Francisco). There are many public runs across the world, but none matches this nearly century-old 12K through one of the world’s most beautiful cities for sheer spectacle. As many as 80,000 runners compete in all manner of costume — and sometimes, no clothes at all. This is San Francisco, after all.”

But check out why ESPN likes the pre-crackdown B2B here. You see? All the stuff that will be zero tolerated this year is why B2B made ESPN’s list – the ESPN writer specifically mentions mellow cops, alcohol, nuidity, and floats – all the things that make the traditional B2B something different from the thousands of annual 12k fun runs all over flyover country. Isn’t it ironic, don’t cha think?

On another front, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced his B2B resolution today at City Hall – read all about it.

Oh well, back to boycott news. It’s even on the Facebook:


Until race organizers listen to the voices of thousands of San Francisco citizens and remove the Zero Tolerance restrictions announced two weeks ago. Talks with race organizers have STALLED and there is no sign of their interest in building solutions to make this race better instead of hijacking and suburbanizing the event.

Join our ZERO = ZERO movement…

Zero Tolerance = Zero Registrations

See our website for more information or read below.

Automatic for the people:

And of course the Yelpers are yelping away:

The Citizens for the Preservation of Bay2Breakers have welcomed an open dialogue with ING Race Organizers about how to maintain the traditions of Bay to Breakers in a more responsible and organized way after they declared a “Zero Tolerance” policy on alcohol, nudity and floats for the traditional event.http://www.ingbaytobre… stating, “It is important to note that ING Bay to Breakers is a 12K Race, not a civic parade.” to help!http://www.savebay2bre…/…

ING Race Organizers have repeatedly been a no-show to meetings and conference calls showing that they have no intention of compromising or letting San Franciscans have a voice in THEIR race.

They even released this letter:

We need your help!

1. Temporarily BOYCOTT ALL REGISTRATION until ING Race Organizers and the city reconsider their position. We ask for solidarity amongst runners who traditionally register to withhold their registration until Race Organizers removes restrictions.

2. Volunteer! Please email:

3. Check out:

4. Attend the ISCOTT meeting where city planners and sponsors make the final decisions in city permits for the race:

Thursday February 26, 2009
1 South Van Ness Ave
Room #7080
San Francisco, CA

In short, it’s a social media firestorm. On it goes. Stay tuned.

Oh yes, a point counterpoint with An Open Letter to the ING Bay to Breakers Community after the jump

An Open Letter to the ING Bay to Breakers Community

[Introductory boilerplate omitted] As we approach our centennial year, it has become necessary for us to take steps to ensure that the race remains viable while still maintaining its character and celebratory spirit.

This suggests that B2B is in jeopardy, either because the City and County won’t allow it to continue or that not enough people register to make it financially sustainable. This is news to me.

We are working with the neighborhoods of San Francisco, the board of supervisors and the office of the Mayor, along with all the major city services including the Police and Fire Departments to promote respect among runners, spectators and the community at large.

Dig the unusual capitalizations above – they are telling. Here, the term “neighborhoods” is used as a proxy for the landed gentry leadership elements of the landed gentry neighborhood associations but, in actuality, the neighborhoods of San Francisco are represented by the Supervisors, non? Anyone who feels that speaking to a few NIMBY ringleaders equates to “working with the neighborhoods of San Francisco” would probably feel comfortable with pre-Jacksonian Democracy, and would probably sympathise with the Prussian three-class franchise (Dreiklassenwahlrecht). Achtung, baby. Most San Franciscans aren’t NIMBY property owners, right?

[Blah blah blah, passion, blah blah blah, omitted] We believe that it is the passion of the people that make this race so special. It has become clear with the responses we have received to our new policies that many participants are unaware of the negative impact the current culture of this race is having on the City’s neighborhoods and the quality of the race itself. The majority of the participants cite the fun and uniqueness of the race (which we love, too), but do not recognize the true impact of the aftermath.

Is it possible to be cognizant of the “current culture” of B2B and still not agree with the Race Director? Yes it is.

Uncontrolled consumption, lack of responsibility for personal property and for the “floats” that are brought on course, disrespect of the boundaries of the race course itself, an unwillingness to take responsibility for one’s own trash and an ever-growing population of unregistered runners are the real issues that threaten the viability of this event.

Who or what is threatening the viability of this event?

It is important to note that ING Bay to Breakers is a 12K Race, not a civic parade.

It is important to note that B2B is a civic parade, not just another 12K fun run.

The race is funded solely by registered participants and sponsorship – this includes all city services (e.g., PortaPotties, dumpsters and clean up) provided along the course.

Der. Who doesn’t know that? And hey, what went wrong last year? Anschutz couldn’t afford to pay for portable toilets because… not enough so-called “bandits” and and so-called “thieves” registered? Really?  

Without the loyal support of our registered runners and sponsors, the phenomenon that is Bay to Breakers would not exist. Tens of thousands of unregistered participants have come to enjoy this tradition every year. They jump in from the sidelines and clog the course with homemade floats and strolling parties.

Well, now you’re on the trolley. But hey, aren’t “homemade floats and strolling parties” the “character and celebratory spirit” of B2B?

[Blah blah blah] We urge you to show your support by registering for the race.

This is just like asking for a boycott.

We are also asking participants to leave their alcohol at home.

Hey, whatever happened to “zero tolerance,” where enforcement would all of a sudden change for just one day in just one part of town? Is “asking participants to leave their alcohol at home” the same thing as zero tolerance?  

For those who wish to enjoy a beer or glass of wine in celebration of the race, we will provide, as usual, a beer and wine garden at Footstock, the post-race festival in Golden Gate Park.

One $12 beer or glass of wine only? Just one, really?

While the race sponsors are supportive and believe the policies will improve the enjoyment by all involved, our sponsors are not responsible for decision making on race logistics and management.

Really, all the sponsors believe all that and are supportive? Is that still an operational statement? This is just like asking for a boycott of sponsors. 

The decision to enforce these policies was made by those of us who plan, organize and manage the race throughout the year.

Is this a full-time, twelve-month-a-year job?

[Closing boilerplate omitted]

To whom does the Race Director answer to? We may never know…

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One Response to “Boycott Called on 2009 Anschutz ING Bay to Breakers, Showdown Skedded for Thursday”

  1. gjg says:

    I tried to sign the petition (5 times) and it will not go through. Is there a problem with the site?