Beating the Bridge: Conquering the Across the Bay 10K

Posted at 3:22 PM, Nov 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-07 16:38:29-05

After three years of running in the Across the Bay 10K race, I can safely say I’d rather run across the Bay Bridge than drive across it.

Yes, really!

Because if I’m driving across it, I’m probably stuck in traffic on my way to the beach. But if I’m running across it, I’m outside, enjoying the beautiful view of the Chesapeake Bay, taking part in the 5th largest 10K in the country.

When the Across the Bay 10K debuted in 2014, I knew I had to run it. The opportunity to run on the bridge was too unique to pass up, despite the fact that runners cross a span that’s a mere 26 feet across and almost 200 feet above the Bay.

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On Sunday, I was one of about 20,000 runners who “beat the bridge” in the 3rd annual Across the Bay 10K. (Gov. Larry Hogan also conquered the bridge, along with Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh.)

The race begins at Northrop Grumman, near the western edge of the bridge, then continues over the Bay Bridge’s eastbound span, ending near Terrapin State Park in Queen Anne’s County.

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Runners take off in waves of about 2,000 runners each, beginning on a staggered schedule every 15 minutes, starting at 7 a.m.

The first part of the race is a pretty long uphill, more than a mile, but don’t let that scare you off. It’s not all that steep and once you get to the top of the bridge, the race levels out for another mile or so and then it’s a long downhill stretch. Downhill running kills my quads, but it’s easy for me to run fast downhill. I logged a few of those miles at a sub-7 minute pace—way faster than I usually run!  

Runners taking on this race have gotten lucky when it comes to the weather every year (and every runner knows that the weather can quickly spoil a race). It was sunny and crisp outside, perfect for a race.

One thing I’ve learned in my years doing this race is to NOT overdress. It might be cold at the beginning of the race, but it gets warm on top of the bridge, so if you layer up too much, you’ll regret it.  Luckily, Across the Bay 10K partners with PlanetAid to retrieve any discarded outer layers and make sure they go to a person in need.

I do have two gripes about this race. One, the number of selfie-seekers who stop at the top of the bridge to snap pictures. I know a #bridgeselfie is tempting, but if you’re going to do that, please step aside and don’t just stop right in the path of a determined runner who might just mow you over. (Sorry to the person I almost crashed right into. OK, maybe there was more than one.)

Second, there are a lot of people who walk this race, which is totally fine! But there is a walker lane and a runner lane for a reason. As a runner, it’s frustrating to be hitting your stride and then have to suddenly stop because someone is walking very slowly in front of you. And I’m sure walkers are equally annoyed by the runners weaving in and out of their path. Stay in your lane!

The Ironman triathlon series announced last week that it’s acquiring Across the Bay 10K, in its attempt to delve further into road races. I’ll be back for this race next year, and I hope it remains the same great destination running event!   

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