By Will Geiken

On the Friday before Bay to Breakers a few of the San Luis Obispo HOKA ONE ONE Aggies were discussing the upcoming weekend on our run. As we reminisced about years past, each of us broke into kid-in-a-candy-store style grins, imagining the fun that was to be had. For us, B2B is as exciting as Christmas is to a five-year-old. We get so excited that we can hardly sleep.

As a second generation Aggie, I’ve been listening to stories about the centipede for more years than I’ve been running. For better or worse, I knew about the 'pede long before learning about most of the more famous aspects of B2B, i.e., nudity, the Panhandle, etc. During my adolescence I heard tales of garbage bags, the great Lenichi, and even fist fights between competing teams that were definitely started by the Power Bar team. So, when the time came for me to join the 'pede last spring, I was stoked. Of course, no one mentioned that running a 12k whilst being simultaneously pulled forwards and backwards by bungee cords isn’t actually fun. It’s only fun to look back on as you laugh over a cold one. In any case, the experience as a whole is one that I remember quite fondly, and I was more than excited to be back this spring. For one, I felt like we had a faster team and might not be as pressed by West Valley. Secondly, I was more fit, which meant that I should only have bungee tension in one direction this time around.

As it turns out, we did have a faster team, but so did West Valley. For the first three miles we ran next to each other, exchanging curious glances and occasional banter. Fortunately for us, a few surges in the park gave us enough breathing room to settle into a tempo that we could all hold. It also turned out that, while I was more fit, so were those around me, which meant that I hardly had any bungee tension at all. That fitness is a double edged sword though, and I almost cost us the race as a result. Nearing the final series of turns before the finish I saw my family on the sideline cheering us on. Given how well things were going, I decided to give them a thumbs up and a smile. A note for the uninitiated: in a 'pede, never take your eyes off of the person in front of you. Because we were running slack, my lack of attention led to my flat-tiring the runner in front of me. That would be Phil, who also happened to be carrying several extra pounds of equipment for a video feed of the race. A series of expletives and a quickly jammed heel on Phil’s part had us safely through, but it could have easily gone from bad to worse. Fortunately, luck and Phil’s dexterity were on our side, and we moved on to the finish and another win without further incident.

In the finish chute I apologized for my lapse, and we all exchanged quick hi-fives before moving on. I still felt guilty for making such a rookie mistake, but everyone was in good enough spirits having accomplished our primary goal that I was allowed to forgive myself. From there we were swept up in the magic of Golden Gate park, and we settled into another time honored tradition of the 'pede: talking about how we’re really going to go after that club record next year. We’ll have so and so, and we’re getting X number of new guys, and we might even be able to take down LinkedIn’s course record. Even if it’s just talk, it’s fun to go over which individuals we would need and how we would break down the splits. And who knows, maybe next year we will have so and so. Maybe we’ll even get X number of new guys. We might even chase LinkedIn’s course record.