Training to break your own world record for any footrace can be difficult. But when you’re trying to break the record you set last year as a member of a 13-person centipede team, the task can seem daunting — if not silly.
At Sunday’s 101st Zazzle Bay to Breakers, the LinkedIn centipede will try to do just that: beat the 37 minutes it took them last year to run 7.46 miles from The Embarcadero to Ocean Beach.
Armen Vartanian, a member and organizer of the team, said the team can reach its goal.
“We’re fielding a stronger team this year,” Vartanian said. “The whole of the group is better than individuals alone.”
Vartanian said the group, which is made up of elite runners — some of whom are training for the Olympics — does the race for the fun of running together rather than against one another.
“It’s a Bay Area institution,” Vartanian said of Bay to Breakers. “For me, I grew up here and was a part of the human wall, between the elite runners and the other runners. I would stand there and get goose bumps watching those guys. Now I’m one of them.”
Navigating the crowd of thousands can be a challenge for the group, which is attached by 4-foot-long chords. But, Vartanian said, beginning the race is not a problem — it’s the route back that can prove to be a challenge.
“We retrace the course as a warm-down,” Vartanian said. “It takes a lot of coordination.”
Race organizers are just as serious as the centipede team, but for different reasons. They want to be sure the restrictions put in place last year are upheld. According to Bay to Breakers, no floats, alcohol or bad behavior will be tolerated.
The Police Department said last year’s sold-out 100th anniversary race was a “success” with the strict measures, and they hope the same is true this year.