Hayes Hill: You Better Work
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.
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.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.