Hayes Hill: You Better Work

Image courtesy RuPaul's Dragulator

Are you actually running the Bay to Breakers? Best be prepared for Hayes Hill, the most painful, ball-bustingly difficult component of this race.

The Hayes St. Hill is the notorious uphill stretch of the Bay to Breakers that separates the runners from the partiers for the remainder of the day. It’s the only substantial incline runners face on the course, a five-block 11.15% uphill grade that has thwarted honest efforts for years and inspired “I Survived Hayes Hill” t-shirts.

They say the top of Hayes Hill is “the highest point in the race”. They’re actually wrong. Wonder Mike at SFCitizen points out that the highest altitude one reaches on the course is actually in Golden Gate Park by Stow Lake, where you are running an area that feels totally flat. You are actually running slightly, imperceptibly uphill nearly the first two-thirds of Golden Gate Park.

Actual altitudes of B2B course, courtesy SF Citizen

So, you really gonna run this thing? If so, I have some great strategies for conquering this unforgiving hill. If not, you do not need to bother reading all this, ’cause you will just party the whole way up. It’s nothing personal. You’re still my type.

Image courtesy Scott Dunlap's Trail Runner's blog

I’ve found the best way to attack Hayes Hill is not to approach it as one big horrible hill, but as five consecutive, very beatable hills. As you dash through Hayes Valley and you see that fucker coming, that’s when you rest up. Then you just take those five hills quickly and effectively and get it over within five minutes instead of 45 minutes.

Those five consecutive very beatable hills are as follows:

Laguna St. to Buchanan St. – You are hardly running uphill at all for the first block. It is easy, then boom — you’re already 20% finished with Hayes Hill.

Buchanan St. to Webster St. – You are running only slightly more uphill for the second block. Easy sleazy.

Webster St. to Fillmore St. – Here’s where it gets serious, but not til almost up at Steiner. Which is past halfway! Ergo, this is sorta the homestretch already.

Fillmore St. to Steiner St. – Just keep pounding. Running slow is still running, and still faster than walking. You can totally see the top of the hill, so work the emotional momentum of that.

Steiner St. to Pierce St. – This is the end! Pump your legs like pistons and just finish this block. Nicely done! Nothing ever “feels” uphill the whole rest of the race course, plus you’re going to The Panhandle where the block parties are gonna get super-crazy.

With this advice, you will knock out the hardest component of the race course with minimal pain and you will guarantee yourself some distance from those slow, drunken bozos who are clogging up the streets. All of whom I adore, by the way.

Another thing to consider — this is where all the liquor stores are. To wit… prior to Hayes Hill you have run 2.5 miles and you will have encountered only three liquor stores open for business on a Sunday morning. On Hayes Hill, you will encounter five liquor stores open for business on a Sunday morning. And for the entire 4.5 miles of the race course still remaining after Hayes Hill, you will encounter only two more liquor stores open for business on a Sunday morning.

If you think you might need to stop at liquor store, consider Hayes Hill your last good chance. Once you hit The Panhandle you will not encounter even one more liquor store without taking a substantial detour off-course.

Sashay! Shontay!

8 Responses to “Hayes Hill: You Better Work”

  1. milkywaynews Says:

    Big wheel keep on turning! Happy to see your cog came up. I’m new to this game, so your post about your map was bang on! How to get your blog recognized 101. Fate, destiny, my anology would be the old astronaut theory, you can only hope you hit all the right switchs once you have ignition. And even if you have, there’s a whole lot of other people involved in the mission, you gotta hope their paying attention. Which kind of makes me wonder how your blog applies to the folks over at mission control do you think that………..

  2. Dude. Just got an insane amount of clickt-through from you today. I guess the lesson is “post more naked photos”. 😉

    Congrats on the SF Half! I downed 5 beers at the Boston Marathon this year and thought I would never make it. You are the MASTAH.

  3. […] being able to run straight through the streets of San Francisco is super cool (even if there are some serious hills involved). After Bay to Breakers I realized even more how much I really love running and these types of […]

  4. […] inclines in Central Park or Prospect Park seriously. NYers, THIS is what a real hill is like. The Hayes St. Hill is a 5 block 11.15% incline. That “dreaded Harlem Hill in Central Park” is a mere 4.4% […]

  5. […] always served as an enormously sloppy impromptu “party zone” after racers have finished running Hayes Hill. The change comes not at the request of a neighborhood group or the race organizers, but straight […]

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  7. […] marched up and survived Hayes Hill, the steepest part of the […]

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