Peninsula native vying for centipede mark at Bay to Breakers

Peninsula native vying for centipede mark at Bay to Breakers

By: Mike Aldax
May 11, 2010

Poignant experiences: Armen Vartanian says he was inspired as a kid when he
would watch the elite runners in Bay to Breakers races.

(Mike Koozmin/Special to The Examiner)

Armen Vartanian has been gathering co-workers and other Bay Area runners to
participate in breaking the world record for the longest centipede, but he
won’t be participating personally. That’s because Vartanian, an elite runner
and 2012 Olympic hopeful marathoner, will be attempting to set a record for
fastest centipede.

Centipede racing is a huge deal among the elite athletes running in the ING
Bay to Breakers, which simultaneously is host to the World Centipede Running

The elite centipede competition involves 13 runners who must stay connected
from start to finish. Vartanian said he’s gathering his ringers to break the
course record of 37 minutes, 39 seconds set in 1990.

His team includes several marathoners who have qualified for the Olympic
trials, along with college stars and a Dipsea Race champion.
The Peninsula-raised Vartanian said watching the elite runners at Bay to
Breakers as a child inspired him. In 2001, the same year he began training
for triathlons, Vartanian became the youngest to qualify for Ironman Hawaii.
Several years later, after recovering from injuries that sidelined him for
months, he placed 33rd at the Boston Marathon after only three months of

At the Chicago Marathon in October, he said he’s gunning to best the Olympic
trials qualifying mark of 2 hours, 19 minutes.

But at Sunday’s Bay to Breakers, Vartanian said he hopes that he and his
teammates can inspire young people in the way he was inspired.
"It’s definitely the hometown race," he said. "Whether you are in the
running community or not, you know of the Bay to Breakers."