SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Strong winds greeted runners who came to San Francisco for the 107th Bay to Breakers race. The 12 kilometer run drew nearly 40,000 registered participants this year in an event that draws elite runners in pursuit of the cash prizes as well as a parade of colorful costumes and characters.
New this year, was an optional bonus loop at the end at the Great Highway for those who wanted an additional challenge.
"We're giving the runners the option to extend the run by an extra 3 km make it a full 15k race out there and when you take on that challenge, you get an extra medal at the finish line," said Chris Holmes, General Manager of the Bay to Breakers race who says they partnered with Sutter Health to create the longer course option.
At the starting line along Howard Street downtown, runners dressed as rainbow squids, unicorns, fruit, lady liberties, a Blue Man group from Arrested Development's outreach team and superheroes waited for the 8 a.m. starting horn.
"This is the first time with our kids and we love it because it's so much fun and we get to wear our costumes," said Mani Phannavong of Dublin, who was dressed with her husband and two children as the Incredibles superhero family.
And then, there three women dressed as chickens. They crossed the road and explained how long they'd been flocking to the race.
"Off and on from '97 we were just figuring that out just now and we just love the excitement and all the people dressing up," said Sandy Rolph, San Jose.
Every year, there are new costumes, such as the two girls who raised the question of who would win...Yanny or Laurel...picking up on the debate raging over an audio clip on social media over an audio clip.
"I'm Team Yanny and I'm Team Laurel," said Reilly Filter and Natalie Hill of Palo Alto who had signs around their necks.
At the starting line, tortillas started flying, another Bay to Breakers race tradition.
San Francisco Police officers and some 2,000 volunteers were out in yellow shirts, helping to keep everything running smoothly.
"It's a San Francisco meet and every time I come I look forward to it. I've been volunteering since 1981. I've been volunteering since 1981," said Mortimer Landsberg, a Bay to Breakers volunteer.
"I've been running the Bay to Breakers since 1972 and with the royal wedding yesterday I figured this would be perfect for it," said Tom Sweeney, well-known as the Sir Francis Drake Hotel's chief doorman bedecked in a Beefeater costume.
Wind made it a little chilly for those runners who follow the tradition of wearing no clothes, just their shoes and race number.
The race course ran through the city and Golden Gate Park causing road closures along the way.
At the finish line, about 100 exhibit booths and sponsored greeted runners for a festival and concert at Ocean Beach.
The fastest runners crossed before other racers even began.
Nearly 50 runners competed in the elite division. The elite men's winner was Philemon Cheboi of Kenya who finished in 35 minutes and 41 seconds. He was the defending champion after winning the 2017 race. For the women's division Jane Kibii also of Kenya finished in 40 minutes 37 also
The winner of the centipede race, which involves a group of people who run while tethered together, was the HOKA Aggies men's running club which crossed at 40 minutes 19 seconds. The strong winds likely contributed to the slower pace compared to previous years.
For many people, though, the Bay to Breakers race is more about the fun of the run.