With Boston on the mind, Bay to Breakers participants still have a grand ol’ time 

click to enlarge Tightened security didn’t stop the party at legendary footrace. - GODOFREDO VASQUEZ/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Godofredo Vasquez/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • Tightened security didn’t stop the party at legendary footrace.

Dressing up for the Craigslist Bay to Breakers is an annual tradition for Irvine resident Jolene Manginelli and three of her best friends. In past years, they’ve worn M&M outfits and “Alice in Wonderland”-themed attire, and once designed costumes that looked like gum on the bottom of a sneaker.

But this year, the group of four decided to keep it simple with T-shirts bearing a fitting message: “Boston Strong. Never Forget.”

“We had a discussion about whether we should skip this year,” Manginelli said. “But we just felt like we had to go ahead and do it.”

The imprint of the Boston Marathon bombings just more than a month ago could be found throughout The City’s famous 12-kilometer race Sunday. Police officers lined the streets, participants trekked without backpacks (large ones were banned due to their use in the Boston incident) and thoughts of last month’s attack seemed to be on everyone’s mind.

But the party carried on, with more than 21,000 registered participants finishing the race while countless others joined in the festivities as spectators.

In the wake of the Boston bombings, police took precautions to ensure that this year’s Bay to Breakers was tightly secured. They beefed up their presence with help from Walnut Creek, San Mateo, West Sacramento, San Jose and the FBI; they installed cameras at the start and finish lines and along the Hayes Street Hill; and they banned large backpacks and refused to allow unregistered runners on the course.

Officer Albie Esparza said 21 people were arrested on suspicion of public intoxication, while there was one firearm possession arrest and another for felony robbery.

Esparza said police responded to a few calls about abandoned backpacks early in the day, but they eventually determined that no suspicious behavior was involved.

“We wanted people to come out and continue their lives and we’re glad things turned out the way they did,” he said.

Amber Lynn of San Mateo said it was reassuring to see additional police throughout the course.

“Unfortunately it’s necessary,” she said. “If you aren’t up to anything, it doesn’t matter. They aren’t jerks.”

Bay to Breakers spokeswoman Dee Dee Taft said organizers are pleased that this year’s race came within “a few hundred participants” of last year’s total registration.  

“It was great to see that everybody still came out to enjoy the race, in lieu of what happened in Boston; they didn’t let it bring them down,” she said.  

Harry Cordellos, 75, said no potential terrorist threats — or back spasms — would stop him from completing his 46th straight Bay to Breakers.

Cordellos, who is blind, threw his back out halfway through the course, but he limped across the finish, hunched over at a 45-degree angle, with the help of his friends.

“As long as God gives me the strength to go to that starting line, I’ll be back,” he said. “There’s no way you can take the thrill away from this race.”


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Paul Gackle

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