The spring racing season is in full swing with a variety of Bay Area events held every single weekend through May. The granddaddy of them all is, of course, the Bay to Breakers, the world’s oldest consecutively held annual footrace and certainly one of the most famous. While this exceptional mobile dance party should be high on the bucket list for many runners, others will say it’s not for everybody. But no one can argue that the Bay to Breakers is among the five best spring races in the Bay Area.

Bay to Breakers (Credit, Randy Yagi)

Bay to Breakers
Main St. and Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 231-3130
Date: May 17, 2015

Held on the third Sunday in May, the Bay to Breakers draws many of the world’s elite runners but is better known for its largely festive atmosphere, with many participants dressed in colorful costumes or wearing nothing at all. The celebrated 12K race begins near the Ferry Building along the San Francisco Bay and past Market Street before reaching the only steep portion of the event at Hayes Street Hill near Alamo Square. Shortly thereafter, runners and walkers then enter Golden Gate Park for a few easy miles before crossing the spectacular finish line at Ocean Beach. The post-race party formerly held at the polo fields in Golden Gate Park is now held at the beach, where participants and their friends and family can enjoy food, beverages and live entertainment.

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Golden Gate Relay
1856 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(650) 508-9700
Date: May 2-3, 2015

Described as California’s longest party, the Golden Gate Relay is a 191-mile footrace between Calistoga and Santa Cruz. Consisting of about 200 teams with 12 members each, the legendary course passes through 36 Bay Area cities and is split into 36 legs, with each runner covering a distance of three to eight miles while other team members alternate time between driving one or two transport vans or taking naps over the two-day event. In addition to The Relay, the Golden Gate Relay Walk is a 125-mile course with 12-member teams walking 24 legs of 3.7 miles. The Relay Walk passes through 28 cities and has a different starting point, at the Marin French Cheese Company in Petaluma.

Men’s Group Triathlon (Credit, Randy Yagi)

Half Moon Bay International Triathlon
Pillar Point Harbor
One Johnson Pier
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(408) 515-2860

Date: April 19, 2015

The Half Moon Bay International Triathlon is a USA Triathlon-sanctioned Olympic distance event previously held at Almaden Lake Park in San Jose. Also known as the Silicon Valley International Triathlon, the event moved to Half Moon Bay last year and features a 1.5K swim in Pillar Point Harbor, a 10K trail run on the Half Moon Bay Coastline Trail and 40K bike on Highway 1. Because it’s a USA Triathlon sanctioned event, all athletes must be a USA Triathlon annual member or must purchase a one-day permit. Water temperatures at Pillar Point average between 56-59 degrees in April.

Oakland Running Festival
19th St. and Harrison St.
Oakland, CA 94612
(410) 605-9381

Date: March 22, 2015

More than 10,000 participants are expected to compete in the sixth annual Oakland Running Festival at Lake Merritt. The premier event is the marathon, voted the Best Marathon in the Pacific West by Competitor Magazine in 2013. The marathon begins and ends at Oakland’s Lake Merritt and offers live entertainment along the entire course and cash awards are given to the top five men and women finishers, in addition to the first overall men and women finishers in the master’s categories and awards to winners in each of the age group categories. Other running events include a half marathon, 5K race, kids’ fun run, team relay and a corporate challenge.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (Credit, Randy Yagi)

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon
Great Highway and Fulton St.
San Francisco, CA 94121
(858) 450-6510

Date: March 29, 2015

Part of the “World’s Largest Running Series,” the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon is a fast course featuring a run across the Golden Gate Bridge. The popular half marathon is a point-to-point course, beginning on the Great Highway along Ocean Beach, passing through the Presidio of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marina district, before finishing at Civic Center Plaza in front of City Hall. As with all other Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathons, the San Francisco event will feature several rock bands on the course and at the post-race festivities. Pre-race shuttles to the start line will be available only for participants from either Civic Center Plaza or Fisherman’s Wharf.

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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on