Bay to Breakers, San Francisco’s craziest race lasting an incredible 105 years has become a tradition for West Valley Track Club. This wild race holds true to tradition with tortillas tossed through the air in their 40 thousand strong corrals, racing singlets worn only by a handful of serious runners while everyone else wears a costume or nothing at all (literally). I like to compare Bay to Breakers to Imagination Land from South Park, you'll recognize famous characters like I Love Lucy and Superman while others will be “WTF” did I just see? These characters travel across the city forming the longest party in the world! Beer, music, dancing, and games pushes this inland tsunami to Ocean Beach.
Centipede World Championships
Then there's the Centipede World Championships, a race where 13 runners are connected till the finish. Over the decade, the centipede has become a competitive challenge for West Valley TC. The strategy of a working centipede is like a composer instructing an orchestra, everyone has to be in the right location and in sync, if someone can't hold the fast tempo they'll be dragged along slowing down the pede. Simply said the centipede is as fast as the slowest runner. In 2016, the men's team set a new club record of 40:50 at 5:27/mi over the 12k course, that would be challenged this year with a goal of breaking 40 minutes converting to 5:20/mi. To do this, the team needed to recruit the right guys who are fast, experienced and highly competitive; additionally a mix of height and weight to balance the pull or be pulled strategy. After recruiting the right guys for the job and laying out the goal mile splits, strategizing order comes down to week of the race. The front two guys needs to have leadership and set the pace, the middle has taller and heavier runners and the end are lighter and smaller runners. Lastly we needed to look awesome! We partnered with A Runner’s Mind who created racing kits for our Men & Women’s centipede, they beautifully revamped our 1970’s logo in the spirit of Summer of Love.
The gun goes off and we’re neck to neck with our long standing rival Hoka One One Aggies. First two miles are flat and fast hitting 5:13 and 5:16 miles, then comes Hayes Street Hill. This goliath of a hill has 200 feet of elevation gain over half a mile, surprisingly we all chugg up it in 3:24 making it the 40th fastest time for the challenge. A violent downhill awaits us and our 3rd mile is 5:55. We lost our lead over the Aggies entering Golden Gate Park yet still on record pace hitting 5:34 and 5:19. We begin to close on the 10 second gap on the fastest section of the race, two straight miles of downhill, what I like to call free miles because your legs turnover so fast without much effort. Our confidence grows after the 6th mile in 5:05, but the race took its toll on a few of us and gave in to the realization we won’t be able to close the gap. Our 7th mile was 5:10 and knew we were close to breaking 40 minutes without doing runner math, all 13 of us put our heads down and crank up the pace to the finish. Stunned yet joyful, our first runner crosses the line in 40:03 and just 14 seconds back from the Aggies. This was a testament of our abilities as a team to go in uncharted waters, we came short but hungry for next year. All I can say is we’ll be back laser focused on a new record!
Men’s Centipede finished 43:03, 2nd overall and set new club record by 47 seconds
Women’s Centipede finished 52:05 and 3rd overall
Neville Davey (39:20) and Todd Rose (40:31) goes 1 & 2 in the Master’s division winning some serious prize money
Bruce Davie finished 2nd in the 50-54 division
A total of 17 members finished top 10 in their age division
Over 50 WVTC member’s finished the Bay to Breakers
Matt Kane's House of Pain!
Men's Centipede: 2nd Place in 40:03
Women's Centipede: 3rd Place in 52:05