Some matadors tackle the Cow Key Bridge in the 2018 zero K. DAVID SLOAN/Contributed

Some runners push themselves to sweat through marathons and distance challenges, but not the competitors in the Cow Key Channel Bridge Run, scheduled Sunday, April 7.

“Athletes” in the annual “zero K” race will follow a course across one of the Overseas Highway’s shortest bridges, spanning approximately 300 feet between Key West and neighboring Stock Island.

Entrants are encouraged to run or walk at their own pace, clocking their own time while attempting to beat the course record of 23.1 seconds. Separate heats are planned for competitors with pets, relay teams and those attempting to cross the bridge in the slowest time. 

Many participants wear offbeat costumes, including bull or cow ensembles inspired by the name of the bridge over Cow Key Channel. The 2019 race is themed Pirates of the “Cowibbean,” so organizers expect to see “herds” of entrants dressed as bovine buccaneers.

Events begin at 10 a.m. Sunday when competitors gather at the “costumed cow corral” on the Key West side of the bridge for final registration, photo opportunities, costume judging and an opening ceremony. At noon, chiming cowbells will signal the start of the challenge. Entrants race on the Overseas Heritage Trail beside the bridge so vehicular traffic is not disrupted.

Following the race, “athletes” will parade to the “Moos + Booze” pirate party and awards presentation at Sunset Green Event Lawn beside the 24 North Hotel at 3820 N. Roosevelt Blvd. “Golden Calf” awards will be given in multiple categories.

Registration for the race is $10 per person and includes a race bib. A portion of the event’s proceeds benefits the Monroe County Sheriff’s Animal Farm. The Cow Key Channel challenge is scheduled the day after the Middle Keys’ annual Seven Mile Bridge Run, which draws a field of 1,500 people each year to race across one of the world’s longest segmental bridges. More information is at cowkeybridgerun.com.

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