All Tied Up: Bay to Breakers Centipede Experience

World Champion has a nice ring to it.

By virtue of a running career that spans most of my living memory – My running resume includes some cool stuff. However, until this past weekend, World Champion was not on it.

On Sunday, I tied myself to 12 other runners and we ran faster than any other group of 13 runners tied together. The result: my 12 compadres and me became the victors of this year’s World Centipede Running Championships. The championships are held in conjunction with the Bay to Breakers Road Race in San Francisco, California.

Fellow Members of the World Champion Centipede

The race is one of the oldest and most popular road races on the planet. Needless to say, it has a bit of its own personality that matches the city it calls home. Many runners add their own flare to the event (including some on the opposite side of the clothing spectrum of this runner – search at your own discretion).

Runners come is all shapes and sizes

Where is the Next Aid Station?

I learned a few things on my path to greatness. When my training partner, and last person on the train started passing me on Hayes Street Hill, I was initially alarmed.  I thought a competing centipede might be passing us until I realized that he was connected to me, albeit with 8 runners in between. That was when I first learned what it is like to be chasing one’s own tail.

At mile 6, four photographers lined up equidistantly across the street on stepladders to get a better angle for pictures of the parade. I quickly realized that there are three potential endings for this scenario:

A. Avoid clotheslining any photographer by succinctly maneuvering as a group

B. Succinctly spread across the road to clothesline all photographers

C. With no collaboration, a few members alter course and accidentally clothesline at least one photographer

We chose option A.

Centipede Team Making Moves

I learned that some people dig just a little bit deeper. This pertains to both my friends that were tied to me who weren’t keen on being drug along the pavement as well as other runners attempting to spare themselves the embarrassment of being beaten by 13 runners attached by bungee cords.

Most of all, I learned that running as a centipede at the Bay to Breakers is really fun. Sure, winning helps, but even when my legs no longer qualify me for the Asics Aggies A-team, I will still find a way to get tied up and participate in more Bay to Breakers shenanigans.

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