Sleep late, cross a bridge, get the T-shirt. 

Key West’s Cow Key Bridge Run, the world’s first Zero-K run, started as a joke among friends who were mocking the significantly more grueling Seven-Mile Bridge Run. They, too, wanted to run across a bridge and get a T-shirt, but without waking up early or breaking a sweat, so Key West resident and author David Sloan masterminded the Cow Key Channel Bridge Run.

Measuring about 300 feet long, the Cow Key Channel Bridge is one of the shortest bridges in the Florida Keys. The mock event has grown into one of the island chain’s most-anticipated events, with runners, walkers and watchers from all over the world dressing in cow costumes and competing for Golden Calf Awards. 

Free rum shots are handed out at the finish line, where the runners form a parade and stroll to a nearby hotel for a bovine-infused after-party and award ceremony. Bring your cowbell. This is a true Key West bucket list event.

The run was traditionally held around the same time as the more arduous Seven-Mile Bridge Run, but pending construction on the Cow Key Channel Bridge prompted organizers to change the date this year and hold the event on Leap Day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29.

Register online at cowkeybridgerun.com. Online registration ends on Feb. 28.

Run organizers donate a portion of the event proceeds to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Animal Farm. To date, the Cow Key Bridge Run has raised more than $10,000 for the farm.

Registration begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29 while roving judges in orange shirts will begin judging the best costumes at 10:30 a.m. 

For a complete schedule of events, go to cowkeybridgerun.com.

And they’re off. The cow crowd from 2019 hits the bridge — all 300 feet of it. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly

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