1996 San Francisco Bay to Breakers (page 4)
The Yellow Cab Company of San Francisco ran its own caterpillar team, one that carried aloft a paper cutout of a taxicab. After seven miles even paper is heavy. They had it mounted on grey polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubing, which bounced up and down with the runners.
Lots of couples run together, some with their adult, child, and infant offspring. Some even do it in costume. I found this pair - milk and cookies - to be too cute. It left me smiling for a half-hour.
Nordstrom, the yupscale department store, ran a firetruck caterpiller team. Lots of corporations run teams: I remember airlines, car companies, food concerns, hardware stores, and more. Men who are dickheads and the women who want to pose with them.
Martin Macks, a bar on Haight Street, fielded an entire bar, complete with bartender, alcohol, and barflies. (Martin Macks used to be a hangout for heroin addicts. The first veggieburgers I ever tasted were made on the griddle in the window.) Kegs, ice, music, yelling, all through city streets as the San Francisco Police Department looked the other way (the way things ought to be). Good, clean, slightly out-of-focus fun. If you can get drunk while running you deserve it. (When I was in Israel I couldn't drink enough Macabee Beer to sustain even a buzz.) Not to be overshadowed by Martin Macks, some frat boys brought along an even bigger bar, with an even rowdier crowd, and their sorority sisters to boot. Wreaths of olive leaves, shirtless, they got double-takes from the SFPD. But they too stayed just on this side of the line of minimally civilized behavior required to stay out of the clutches of the patrol officers making overtime on this beautiful day.
This is what happens after the runners pass: (literally) mountains of empty plastic water water bottles and the cardboard boxes that held them. The volunteers break down the lab tables for transport in a truck, while members of the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) collect the recycles for their for-profit venture. In a matter of minutes the Great Highway is cleaned, huge clear plastic bags holding the treasure soon to be collected. Tearing down the finish line happens later, after we're released from finish line duty and are sent on to the polo field. Wells Fargo bank brought a truck with four automated teller machines (ATMs) to the polo field, so that runners and guests could obtain money to purchase the consumables being hawked by a multitude of vendors. The food smells are wonderful, and even though I despise Wells' policy of screwing non-customers out of a huge fee for using their ATMs, I appreciate the gesture.
End of day. 99 per cent of the runners are in the polo fields. All the fixed stations are closed, most are already torn down. All the Mobile Assistance Teams have either been dismissed or sent to the polo fields. I'm always in the latter category, watching for a few hours, making sure that everyone is safe and sane. Medical problems rarely occur, but we still care for lost children, give directions, and make sure folks are hydrated and happy. Sometime in the afternoon our MAT is disbanded. As I walk home from the western edge of Golden Gate Park I keep my radio on, listening to the decreasing amount of chatter, musing on what's already been a twelve-hour day for me. And I'll do it again next year.
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