Blind runner marks 40th race 

International marathoners, standard eclectic crowd expected at Bay to Breakers

Among the expected participants in Sunday’s Bay to Breakers — costumed racers dressed as upstream-swimming salmon traveling against the hoard of runners, stark-naked runners and the usual sighting of Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" — Harry Cordellos might be the most conspicuous.

The Novato resident, who has become one of the most locally recognizable marathon runners and motivational speakers, is blind. This year’s 12-kilometer race, which began as a small local contest in 1912, will mark the 40th consecutive year Cordellos has participated. After the race, Cordellos will be honored by event organizers with a special recognition for his support of the event.

Along with Cordellos’ recognition, this year’s race will feature live bands and an official "centipede" racing category, in which runners linked in chains of 13 merge to resemble the insect with "Twinkie feelers" and "a stinger of appropriate design and toxicity" according to the race Web site.

Event spokewoman Denise Lamott said the rough number of 50,000 registered participants is up slightly from last year, a good sign that the race is growing in popularity. Race-day temperatures are expected to be in the mid-60s.

The race, which starts at the Embarcadero and finishes just west of Golden Gate Park near Ocean Beach, will also feature elite runners from around the world. Catherine Ndereba — known in racing circles as "Catherine the Great" — has signed on to compete. The 34-year-old Kenyan is the only four-time women’s winner in the history of the Boston Marathon and was the silver medalist in the marathon at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Kenyan Gilbert Okari, last year’s overall champion, will also be back to defend his title. Defending women’s winner Tetyana Hladyr of the Ukraine will not be participating.

The new twist at this year’s race is the introduction of a "timing chip," which will be given to everyone who registers. Race participants can attach the device to their shoes, which determines how long it takes the participant to complete the race. At the finish line, people can print out copies of their race time for bragging rights or, in some cases, not-so-sheepish embarrassment.

Bay to breakers transit schedule

Muni (www.sfmta.com)

» Muni charges $7 in special event services. Tickets can be purchased during race registration, at the ING Greater Body Expo or on the day of the event at ING Footstock, the post-race party.

» Shuttle service from Footstock ends at 2:30 pm. In addition to the event’s Express Shuttle Services, a special Muni pass also entitles you to ride on all Muni vehicles from 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on race day.

Before the race:

Special Muni express buses to the start line:

» 5-Fulton line from Fulton and 47th, from 5:45 a.m. to 8 a.m., with local stops from 47th to Masonic, then express service from Masonic to the starting area.

» N-Judah line from Judah and 48th, from 5:45 a.m. to 8 a.m., with local stops from 48th to Masonic, then express service from Masonic to the starting area.

Special Muni express trains to the start line:

» From Judah and 19th Avenue to Embarcadero, with local stops at Church and Duboce.

» From West Portal to Embarcadero, with stops at Castro, Church and Van Ness.

After the race

Special Muni express to the start line:

» Muni Express buses will pick up riders from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., just outside ING Footstock in Golden Gate Park. Look for signage directing riders to the pickup area on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive between Sunset Boulevard and 34th Avenue, 300 yards south of the southern tunnelof the Polo Field.

BART (www.bart.gov)

» All stations will be open at 6 a.m., running 15 to 20 minutes apart thereafter, until regular service begins at 8 a.m.

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