a group of people walking down a bridge
Participants celebrate the ‘zero-k’ Cow Key Channel Bridge Run and Star Wars Day as they cross the 300-foot-long Cow Key Channel Bridge on May 4 in Key West. CONTRIBUTED

Some runners push themselves to sweat through marathons, but not the competitors in the weekend Cow Key Bridge Run in the Florida Keys.

“Athletes” in the “zero-k race” followed a course on May 4 across one of the shortest bridges along the Overseas Highway, spanning about 300 feet between Key West and neighboring Stock Island.

In honor of the race’s “May the 4th” date and “Cow Wars” theme, many participants wore costumes inspired by the blockbuster “Star Wars” film series and carried lightsabers. There was even a miniature horse from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Animal Farm, dressed and bewigged as the character Princess Leia and dubbed “Princess Neigha” as it was led across the short bridge.

The date is marked by “Star Wars” fans each year to salute the films’ iconic catchphrase, “May the force (fourth) be with you.” 

Other intrepid “racers” were garbed in bull or cow ensembles, prompted by the name of the bridge over the Florida Keys’ Cow Key Channel.

The quirky challenge took place on the Overseas Heritage Trail beside the bridge so vehicular traffic was not disrupted. Directly afterward, participants headed for an awards ceremony at the Keys Collection’s Sunset Green Event Lawn.

Proceeds from the race benefitted the Sheriff’s Animal Farm and the Highgate Charitable Foundation.