On Sunday morning at 5am, three buses departed LinkedIn’s Mountain View headquarters to head to the 102nd Annual Bay to Breakers, a quirky 12k run in San Francisco that LinkedIn has participated in officially for the past 3 years.

More than 250 LinkedIn employees signed up for the run, a diverse group of employees across all disciplines, each with different reasons for making the early morning trek. Some were out to beat personal goals while others just wanted to enjoy a beautiful day in the city and take in all the festivities around this fun run.

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More photos from Bay to Breakers 2013

At 6am, blue LinkedIn shirts filled the intersection of Market and Montgomery in San Francisco. If you’ve ever been in San Francisco at 6am, you’ve likely never heard someone describe it as “warm”, but Sunday was different. It was perfect running weather and you could see the bounce in everyone’s step.

As my team and I passed out bibs, safety pins, and t-shirts, throngs of people were already heading to the start line. Some had the look of a person ready to compete in the race, others looked more like they were ready to keep whatever they started the night before going. This contrast is what makes Bay to Breakers so unique. One moment you’ll see an elite athlete who will traverse the course in under 40 minutes, and the next moment you see Super Mario and Princess Peach getting out of a cab.

As LinkedIn’s Health and Wellness Manager, I’m focused on creating an environment where people have convenient practical access to events and information that allow them to live their lives to their fullest. What makes this day special to me, and the reason I woke up at 3:45am(!), was to see LinkedIn employees laughing, competing, and celebrating together. To experience our people at the finish line, to have them proudly tell me how they ran faster than they thought they could; that they ran the entire distance and didn’t stop once; that they missed their goal but are determined to continue to work so that next year they will beat their goal.

Here are snippets of two emails I received after the race that perfectly sum up why Bay to Breakers means so much to me personally.

“I broke my personal best by 6 minutes. I had not done any running/training besides the InShape class, looks like it really paid off.”

“This is the first time I’ve ever run this race, and the first time I’ve ever done more than 5k. I had a blast, and I never would have done it on my own.”

Quite a day!