City of San Francisco prepares for Bay to Breakers race

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - It's a Bay Area institution that brings out thousands of colorful costumes that stretch all the way across San Francisco.

The 104th annual Bay to Breakers race kicks off Sunday at 8 a.m., with organizers expecting runners from all 50 states and as many as 40 countries.

The 12k footrace stretches from the city's Financial District near the San Francisco Bay out to Ocean Beach. Fifty-thousand registered runners are expected this year, with thousands more expected to join in along the course.

Organizers say at least half of all runners will be in costume. The hope this year is to set some weird world records. "For example, we're going to set the world record on Sunday for the longest, one-handed conga line," said Bay to Breakers Director of Operations Charles Holmes.

As usual, the turnout means traffic headaches, with road closures bracketing the course.

The city's transit agency is adding special express service on N trolleys and five buses starting at 4:45 a.m to get people to the starting line early.

"There's going to be two cross points for the entire north to south points of the race. And so if you're trying to drive, there are going to be delays," said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose.

Die-hard runners call the race an important part of their lives. "This is like my tradition now," said Damon Bonnett, preparing for his fourth Bay to Breakers. "I'm a San Francisco native and I love doing it."

"Once I crossed the finish line, my life changed," added Diodita Abenis, also running for the fourth time. "So since then, I never stopped running."

As runners on Friday readied themselves for the race, a jury sentenced the surviving suspect in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings to death by lethal injection.

"The Boston bombing did have an impact on not just this race but any event that we have," said San Francisco Police Department spokesman Officer Albie Esparza. "Which is why the police department's message is that 'If you see something, say something.' If you see anything that's out of the ordinary, if you see anything that's suspicious, call 911, or notify a police officer

In addition to enforcing a ban on alcohol, SFPD officers on foot and on bicycle will be enforcing rules put in place after the bombing. "We don't allow backpacks or any other backpacks on the course unless they are clear," said Holmes.

"Obviously security's tighter than ever before," said Jay Essa of Las Vegas, in San Francisco Friday to run the race for his third time. "But other than that, it's just a great time and a great race and a lot of fun to be here."