Two unique bridge runs are being staged Saturday, April 5 in the Florida Keys: one whose course covers a grueling distance of nearly seven miles and one that is quite literally a hop, skip and a jump by comparison.
Annually for nearly 30 years, racers from around the globe quickly have filled the 1,500 available slots to race over the Florida Keys’ Seven Mile Bridge. One of the longest segmental bridges in the world, the span is the centerpiece of the 113-mile Overseas Highway and stretches between Marathon and Ohio Key at the heart of the island chain.
The landmark bridge arches over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, making the race across it one of the most sought-after challenges for runners. While people of all skill levels can participate, it appeals largely to competitive racers.
Scheduled in April each year, the Seven Mile Bridge Run is the only event that requires the famous bridge be closed temporarily to vehicle traffic. Interested runners can bookmark the event’s website and queue up for a shot at the 2015 race at www.7mbrun.com.
By stark contrast, the inaugural Cow Key Channel Bridge Run is designed for the admittedly less athletic runner. It is, to date, the Keys’ only “zero k” race — attracting competitors who prefer to proceed at their own pace and in their own time, just having fun as they cross the 300-foot span between Key West and Stock Island.
The Cow Key Channel Bridge Run began as a joke between four Key West friends who couldn’t envision themselves racing a 5k (much less one that started at 7 a.m.). It quickly developed into a bona fide fundraiser for the Monroe Country Sheriff’s Animal Farm — with the emphasis on fun and a start time of high noon.
The event is free, although runners can pre-register and pay $5 to secure a place in the first series of heats across the bridge and ensure their eligibility to win a trophy or award. Money raised from sales of T-shirts and race bibs is to be donated to the animal farm.
An unlimited number of runners can join the Cow Key Channel Bridge Run fun. Visit www.cowkeybridgerun.com to register.
Don’t forget: The 7 Mile Bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic on Saturday, April 5 from 6:45 to 9 a.m.