Backgrounder: The Origin of the Across the Bay 10K
The new Across the Bay 10K on Nov. 9, 2014 will provide participants with an opportunity to cross the historic Chesapeake Bay Bridge on foot for the first time in eight years.
The blast of the starter’s horn that day will culminate a monumental effort to again stage a competitive road race on one of America’s most recognizable bridges – an effort with origins going back almost three decades.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, officially named the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge, provides automobile access between Annapolis (Sandy Point) and Maryland’s Eastern Shore (Stevensville). The bridge spans 4.35 miles and has a capacity for 1,500 vehicles per lane, per hour.
When completed in 1952, the two-lane original span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was the world’s longest continuous over-water steel structure. A second span, which currently carries westbound traffic, was completed in 1973. The heavily traveled bridge links Virginia, D.C. and Baltimore to coastal communities such as Ocean City, Md., Rehoboth Beach, Del. and the Eastern Shore. Annual traffic on the bridge is estimated at about 30 million vehicles.
Unlike other landmark bridges, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge does not accommodate pedestrians. But from 1975 to 2006, two popular public events gave walkers and runners a chance to cross the bridge and enjoy the stunning views of Chesapeake Bay below.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Walk began in 1975 after a Boy Scout leader in Towson asked then-Governor Marvin Mandel if his troop could walk across the bridge while it was closed for maintenance. The event grew from there. Sponsored by the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA), which manages the bridge, the walk would eventually attract more than 40,000 participants each May.
In April of 1985, the Annapolis Striders, a local running organization, spearheaded and conducted the first Governor’s Bay Bridge Run (GBBR), which in later years took place early in the morning before the annual walk. Controlled by MdTA and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the 10K marked the first competitive road race over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Proceeds went to the Chesapeake Bay Trust in support of the bay.
Both events were free to participate and took place on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge’s eastbound span, which was closed to vehicles while two-way traffic shared the westbound span. Participants started on the east end of the bridge (Kent Island) and proceeded west to the finish near the toll plaza.
However, frequent cancellations of the events took place throughout the 2000s due to a variety of reasons, including security concerns following 9-11, escalating costs, inclement weather and bridge construction.
The last time the events took place was in 2006. After frequent cancellations in subsequent years, the MdTA decided to discontinue funding the activities.
Since then, various groups have appealed to the State of Maryland to bring an event back to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. But none of these efforts succeeded until a team led by Peter Paris and Sparrow Rogers from Maryland’s Eastern Shore proposed a professional 10K event. The team, known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Run, LLC, in the spring of 2013 solidified an agreement with the MdTA through a partnership with Queen Anne’s County to organize and stage the privately funded Across the Bay 10K (www.bridgerace.com) for three years beginning in 2014.
The 6.2-mile point-to-point course will again take runners over the 4.35-mile bridge, which reaches 186 feet at its tallest point, offering sweeping views of Chesapeake Bay. The Across the Bay 10K will offer one of the longest and highest over-water spans of any road race in the country.
The race will be directed by Dave McGillivray and his team at Andover, Mass.-based DMSE Sports (www.dmsesports.com), regarded as one of the top race management firms in the U.S. with more than 900 events over 30 years.
McGillivray is perhaps best known as the race director of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon but also oversees other iconic American road races such as the New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod, the TD Beach to Beacon 10K in Maine and the Bellin Run in Green Bay, Wis.
Online registration begins on Nov. 9, 2013. Nearly 5,000 runners were signed up as part of a pre-registration program and race organizers anticipate 20,000 runners will register for the first-ever Across the Bay 10K.
As of November 2013, the Across the Bay 10K had named two official race beneficiaries – Bosom Buddies Charities (www.bosombuddiescharities.com) in Queen Anne’s County and the Yellow Ribbon Fund (www.yellowribbonfund.com), based in Bethesda, Md.
The official website for the Across the Bay 10K is located at www.bridgerace.com. The race is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/10kacrossthebay. For more information about the Across the Bay 10K, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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