Daily Archives: May 20, 2013

who had completed the race stopped to take photos

Tens of thousands of runners and revelers took part in the 102nd Bay to Breakers race Sunday, under clear skies and the watchful eyes of an expanded police presence.

From elite Ethiopian distance runners to people dressed as hot dogs, nearly 30,000 registered participants and many other unofficial entrants took off from Howard and Main streets, heading 7.46 miles to a fog-free Ocean Beach.

The first competitor to cross the finish line was 23-year-old Tolossa Gedefa Fufi of Ethiopia, with a time of 35:01 – the slowest winning time since 2003, and only the second time since 1984 that a winner took longer than 35 minutes to finish. Ryan Hall, 30, who was trying to be the first American to win the race since 1986, finished second in 35:40.

The winner of the women’s race was Diane Nukuri-Johnson, 28, of Burundi. She crossed the line in 40:12, a scant two seconds in front of 27-year-old Adrienne Herzog of the Netherlands.

Some elite runners blamed this year’s slower pace on a change in the course, which required more turns in Golden Gate Park toward the end. But Nukuri-Johnson, running the race for the second time, said the alteration didn’t lessen her enjoyment.

“I love it. I’m definitely more relaxed when I come here,” she said of the wacky race. “It’s fun to meet the (non-elites), too – all the people in costumes. But at the same time, we’re here to compete.”

As always, though, the Breakers was less about the race than the party.

Alcohol was officially banned, but that didn’t stop Sean Afshar, 21, of Berkeley, who paused at the corner of Howard and New Montgomery Street with three friends to mix Smirnoff vodka with orange juice.

“You know, they say that every year,” Afshar said. “But you can say that Sean Afshar says go for it!”

On the dreaded Hayes Street Hill, Jimi Paschal, 50, and her friends eased the pain of aching calves by blasting DJ music, flipping burgers and handing out free Jell-O shots to passersby. A crowd of at least 100 swirled around the house.

The crew spent almost $1,000 this year on their party – including $400 on food and nearly as much on Mardi Gras beads to toss on runners. Their bash is now a 12-year tradition.

“When we first started this we had to beg people to come. Now we’re turning them away,” said Renee James, another organizer.

David Minor stood outside his house on the hill, spraying water over the heads of the revelers. He’s done it for the last nine races.

“I don’t do it for the serious runners since I don’t want to distract them, but I turn it on right after they go by,” Minor said. “It cools everyone down as they’re climbing this big hill.”

Even authorities got in on the fun.

One American Medical Response paramedic broke company rules and rigged his ambulance to blast Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” from the vehicle’s PA system.

“You know, sometimes you just gotta keep the people happy,” the paramedic said as revelers whooped, hollered and danced around him.

A larger-than-usual police force also stood guard throughout the route, extra-vigilant after the April 15 bombing of the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured more than 260.

Large backpacks were banned for the first time this year. Police were taking no chances – even the elite runners had their belongings checked, and officers on the police scanner were heard looking for “someone in a gorilla suit” who had abandoned a pack near the start of the race.

The race announcer asked runners at the starting line to be just as vigilant: “Remember: If you see something, say something. And please, use the 1,000 Porta Potties along the route.”

Meanwhile, a seemingly endless flow of racers continued to pour through city streets, though the number of registered runners was down slightly from last year.

Michael Costa, 53, sipped his Starbucks coffee downtown and watched the costumed runners trot by.

Peter Weir came from even farther away. The 50-year-old Australian marveled at the diversity of San Francisco as he leaned on a railing near Moscone Center, where his wife was participating in the American Psychiatric Association conference.

Miles to the west, runners who had completed the race stopped to take photos. Some made a right turn into Golden Gate Park, while others brought the party to the beach.

Down at the breakers, where temperatures were in the 60s, the beach was packed. More than one naked runner further communed with nature by dipping their feet in the surf.

Along the Great Highway were lines for bathrooms and T-shirts. By far the longest was the ID check for a 21-and-over wrist band.

You cross the finish line, get your free coconut water, and walk a few more steps and voila – you’re drinking beer in the middle of the Great Highway beside decorative shrubs and potted palms.

The place was packed by midmorning – but quickly thinned out as the party moved to Golden Gate Park, or back home for a hot bath.

The most actively traded gold contract

Fueling the latest leg of gold’s selloff — which has sent prices down 7.4 per cent, or more than $US100 — were US indicators that pointed to an improving economy.

Investors increasingly are lured by rising stocks and other assets that usually get a lift from growth. Bulls who swore by the metal amid the turmoil of the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) and the subsequent euro-zone debt crisis are now beating a retreat.

Gold for May delivery, the front-month futures contract, on Friday slid $US22.20, or 1.6 per cent, to $US1,364.90 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

That closing price is just shy of the $US1,360.60 an ounce hit on April 15, the second day of a record two-day route that shaved $US200 off gold prices.

The most actively traded gold contract, for June delivery, ended at $US1,364.70, also declining by $US22.20.

Gold skidded lower Friday as recent US consumer confidence readings bolstered expectations among some investors that the Federal Reserve will taper its easy-money policies this year.

Stocks rallied on the data and many low- or zero-yielding investments, such as Treasurys and gold, fell.

“As equities continue to rally and inflation data fails to show inflation, I don’t see any reason to own gold, unless you like how it looks on the shelf,” said Adam Klopfenstein, senior market strategist in Chicago with Archer Financial Services, a brokerage.

Investors had rushed to buy gold following the GFC, as many feared the Fed’s bond-buying programs meant to stimulate the economy would stoke inflation and weaken the US dollar.

Gold is widely considered a store of value, and its price rallied as money managers seeking a safe haven piled in.

But such worries have receded in recent months as the US economy expanded while inflation has remained tame and the US dollar has strengthened against its counterparts.

The current losing streak in gold is the longest since an eight-session selloff that ended in March 2009.

As US economic growth has held steady with unemployment rates falling, Fed officials have started to debate the pros and cons of continuing the central bank’s asset-purchase program.

That rhetoric has gotten investors buzzing about the possibility of a rise in interest rates, which would dim gold’s allure even more.

“You have the general recognition that the US is likely to come out of the doldrums and resume sustainable growth earlier than anywhere else,” said Frances Hudson, Global Thematic Strategist for Standard Life Investments, an international asset manager with over $US270 billion ($A276.29 billion) under management.

On Friday, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan early May consumer sentiment index jumped to 83.7 in May from 76.4 at the end of April. The consumer confidence reading was at its highest since 2007. Separately, the Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators rose 0.6 per cent in April, more than economists had expected.

US dollar-denominated gold futures have also been under assault from a rapidly strengthening greenback.

The ICE Dollar Index has rallied more than three per cent so far this month in a sign that many investors have abandoned inflation concerns, especially as some Fed officials have become more vocal about scaling back stimulus measures.

The US dollar hit a new four-year high against the yen on Friday and was stronger against the euro and other currencies.

In the past, physical buyers of gold bullion and jewellery have acted as a support to prices, but this time around, selling by mainstream investors who had exposure to gold through exchange-traded funds is overwhelming that demand.

“What we see is a battle between institutional investors liquidating and retail investors bottom-fishing, and it comes as no surprise that the institutions are winning out because they have a lot more firepower,” said Michael Shaoul, chief executive at Marketfield Asset Management, with $US9 billion under management.

As of Tuesday, large money managers and hedge funds held a record number of bets on lower gold prices, according to weekly data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission released on Friday. While speculative investors still hold more bets on higher gold prices than lower ones, that gap has narrowed to its lowest level since 2007.

Quarterly financial filings released Wednesday showed that large hedge funds have again cut back their holdings of gold-backed exchange-traded funds, which buy and store gold on investors’ behalf. Institutional investors like hedge funds accounted for about 75 per cent of total outflows from SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold ETF, according to Commerzbank.