Although the annual running of Bay to Breakers has often been compared to the world's largest keg party, the event has still managed to draw some of the best runners in the world. Much of that is due to the hefty prize money awarded in a variety of categories. I don't have specifics for 2011, but in recent years, they've awarded the first people crossing the finish line, the first male and female to crest Hayes Street Hill, bonuses for record breakers, prizes for the first American man and woman, and numerous other prizes.
This year's race features a host of world class runners looking to make their mark in this 12K race. It doesn't look like two-time defending champion Sammy Kitwara will be taking part this year. If he is in fact not participating this year, we'll have a new male champion:
- American Meb Keflezighi is fresh off a 3rd place finish over 10k in Madrid. He is the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the marathon, and 2009 NYC marathon champ. Meb looks to add to his stellar running resume in his Bay to Breakers debut.
- Lineth Chepkurui from Kenya, defending Battle to the Breakers Champion from 2010, is 23 and is looking to capture her third Bay to Breakers title. Her 2011 campaign includes a victory at the BAA 5k, a runner-up finish at the Crescent City Classic, and a team gold medal at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
- Also making his B2B debut is 2009 Boston Marathon champ Direba Merga. The 28 year old Ethiopian is the 2011 RAK ½ marathon and Yangzhou ½ marathon champion.
- At 25, Misiker Mekonnin Demisse is coming off a big win at Lilac Bloomsday 12k where she surprised the field to become the race's first Ethiopian female champion. She looks to continue her success in the streets of San Francisco.
- From Oakland, CA, Magdalena Lewy-Boulet is the fifth fastest American woman of all time in the marathon, setting the mark in the 2010 Rotterdam Marathon. Magda is also a 2008 Olympian for the US in the marathon.
It looks like we'll see a really competitive race among people actually trying to win. Personally, I'm rooting for an Elvis impersonator to score a huge upset. It hasn't happened yet, but at some point The King will emerge victorious.