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A View From the Top: Governor’s Bay Bridge 10K

Posted by Filed Under: Races & Racing, Reviews

The Governor’s Bay Bridge 10K Race (Md.) was cancelled for the 4th time in six years last week. This is a race in distress.

The race, put on by the Annapolis Striders, is a point-to-point 10K race that leaves at 8 a.m. from sea level at the start of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on the Eastern Shore in Maryland.

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It runs westbound over the bridge to Sandy Point State Park on the other side, where runners leave their cars when they board buses at 6:45 am to take them across the Chesapeake Bay to the start line.

The Bay Bridge is a 4.3 mile long double structure spanning the Chesapeake near Annapolis. The two parallel roadways were built at different times so they differ from each other slightly. The bridge curves gracefully to the north as it approaches the western shore, giving motorists a sideways look at the elegant structure which elongates the pleasing view of the twin-spanned bridge stretching across the wide expanse of water. The top of the long bridge is in the middle of the broad bay where the bed of each roadway rises to its highest point between twin towers.
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The bridge is 186 feet above the water at its top so during the race, that’s the height runners climb to in the first 2.1 miles once they leave the Eastern Shore. Then they run 2.1 miles downhill back to land on the western side and finish off with 2 miles of flat running to the park where the race ends. There’s a nice post-race festival in the park after the race, with food and beer on hand and a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge from ground level. The last time the race was actually run, finishers’ medals were handed out.

The view runners encounter on the bridge is stupendous. The horizon lies far off in every direction. The environment up there is exhilarating. Ocean breezes cool the runners off as the tangy salt air washes over their bodies. The run is bracing, a thirty minute heady dash high over glittering water followed by twenty minutes of hard charging across the flatlands to the end.

The Bay Bridge 10K would be a good race to try to PR on. You run uphill in the first two miles while you’re still fresh. You recover and pick up speed on the 2.1 mile downhill length. If you can push the pace on the flats during the last two miles after all of that recovery, you might have a great time.

The race has to be on a short list of Mid-Atlantic must-do 10Ks, along with perhaps Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond (all of that history), Darcars Pike’s Peek in Rockville, Md., (198 feet net downhill), the defunct St. Patrick’s Day 10K in downtown Washington, D.C. (currently an 8K) and perhaps the Justice-Columbia Masonic Lodge #3 Veteran’s Day 10K at Haines Point (need to run by The Awakening statue before its slated removal).

The race is also a top entry in bridge runs. The Annapolis Ten-Miler in August (hot, hilly, and humid) has its memorable two trips over the hulking U.S. Naval Academy Bridge. The ING New York City Marathon runs over five bridges (you cannot top starting out a race with a two-mile traverse over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge). The Wirefly National Marathon (D.C.) runs over the Sousa Bridge and the Douglass Bridge which are pretty nice spans. Regrettably the Bay Bridge-Tunnel Marathon, with its 17-mile trip across the lower Chesapeake Bay via roadway and twin tunnels is no more.

Four cancellations in six years has to bode ill for the future of the Governor’s Bay Bridge 10K. It was cancelled due to high winds this year, although they did improvise a 5K run at the last moment within the park. In 2005 construction on the bridge caused cancellation of the race. In 2003 security concerns shut down the race, and in 2002 rain and lightning caused cancellation. Hopefully the race will go on despite these numerous setbacks.



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