November 11, 2014
For over 30 years the annual Chesapeake Bay Bridge Walk and Governor’s Bay Bridge Run welcomed runners/walkers over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. In 2006 it was canceled due to rising costs, restoration efforts, and security concerns.
When it was announced that the 10K was coming back under new race management, I knew I wanted to sign up (even though I am scared of driving over that bridge – ranked as one of the most “terrifying bridges in the US”).
Packet Pickup / Expo
Bib pickup was held on the Friday and Saturday preceding the race. On Saturday morning I left DC around 9:00AM and arrived at Navy Marines Corp Memorial Stadium (look familiar? the TSC Annapolis Half Marathon and 10K started there as well).
I arrived around 9:50AM and there was already a line forming! I guess I should not have been surprised, there were 20,000 participants for this event. It was a bit amusing to me that I waited in a shorter line for New York. I thought…..I hope this is not a glimpse of what is to come on Sunday.
Once the doors opened the line went by quickly. It took me less than 5 minutes to get inside the concourse. Runners picked up their bibs at one of the 40 booths (one booth for every ~500 bibs) and had to present our confirmation email. My friend Jenn was on a work trip so I also picked up her bib. I hopped into her line (no line) and got an envelope with race instructions, her bib, and safety pins. I walked over to my line and was in and out in minutes. I wonder if lines were longer in the afternoon.
After runners picked up their bibs, we were directed to move along the concourse to pickup or purchase your parking passes. Because of limited parking, on race morning runners would meet at one of five designated parking lots to shuttle over to the start. While you were not required to purchase a parking pass, many people chose this option to avoid the hassle of finding a spot in surrounding neighborhoods.
When you purchased your ticket you were not bound to a particular lot. I saw two booths marked with a “Parking Pass Sales” sign. There were one or two volunteers announcing which line was for prepaid passes and which line was for cash/credit card sales – it was a bit confusing.
Organizers did an excellent job of communicating start waves and shuttle times. Runners were divided into 10 waves, approximately 2,000 runners each. They had a chart that explained if you were in “X” wave you had to be on your bus by “X” time in order to start on time.
After getting my parking pass, I walked around towards the shirt pickup. The stadium is so nice!
We pre-selected our sizes during registration, but we were able to exchange them on the spot (a bit surprising). I heard that some people did not get the size when they arrived later that day. Afterwards I walked through the expo and made my way out of the stadium. My trip took less than 30 minutes.
Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)
I signed up for this a race more than a year ago not knowing it would immediately follow the New York City Marathon (planner fail). Because I missed the bib transfer memo I decided I would use this race as my first recovery run/walk.
- A – Finish 1:30 or longer (do not race this Jennifer)
- B – Use a walk/run combination
- C – Have fun! Use the watch only to make sure I am running easy
Across the Bay 10K
The night before the race we received the below email from the event organizers. I thought that email was an excellent way to manage expectations (good PR). To be honest, I thought race morning would be a mess – given the size of the field, logistics, and the fact it was an inaugural event.
My friend Jenn picked me up at 6:30AM and we headed towards the Navy Marine Corps Stadium to park. Parking lot capacity was updated on the website.
We arrived at the stadium around 7:10AM and there were plenty of spaces! I ate the rest of my breakfast, drank some water, layered up (too many layers I would later find out), and got in line Even though the lines were long – it moved quickly…. sooo many buses there.
The bus shuttled us to the Runner Village – which was on the western side of Maryland. We would be running towards the eastern shore.
The views were beautiful!
Pic with my friend Jenn! As you can probably guess…. I made the wrong choice in clothing selection.
There was plenty of room, porta potties and water in the runners village before heading to your wave. My friend Jenn was in Wave 3 and I was in Wave 9 based on times we submitted in early 2013 (mine was about 20-30 minutes slower then). If we wanted to run together, Jenn would be allowed to start in a later wave, but I could not start earlier.
We arrived right before the start of Wave 6 and noticed loads of people with higher bib numbers than mine entering the corral. While I am usually the biggest rule follower out there…..today…….I broke the rules and started a few waves early. I walked past a volunteer and he did not stop me (or anyone else). The corral wasn’t crowded and in the end we all spread out when we started the race. I did see people walking more than 2 abreast and suddenly stop in the middle (yes the middle) of the bridge to take pictures……race faux pas!
The bridge is about 4.5 miles long with the a 1.5 mile incline. After starting the race (with what I thought was an easy pace) I ran into my high school classmate, Jessica. She was kind enough to let me join her – which was perfect since she was going to use a run/walk combination. At mile 1 my split read 12:00… uhh Jennifer….too fast and this is the uphill portion. We slowed it down a bit and started to walk up to the peak of the bridge.
There were even porta potties and water dispensers at the top of the bridge. How cool! Due to safety and pollution concerns, this was a cupless event and runners were encouraged to bring their own hydration devices or bottles.
They had these cool water spouts (like a water fountain) at miles 2 and 5 where you could fill your water bottle or take a sip. How neat!
After a nice jog down the bay bridge we ran/walk the ~1.5 miles towards the finish line at Terrapin Beach Park. I crossed the finish line at 1:25:22 yayyyyy….I did not race it and my legs felt fantastic. We received our medals, heat sheets, and bag of food.
I found my friend Jenn (shes speedy) and we boarded the bus back towards Navy Marines Corp Stadium (again plenty of buses). It took about an hour to get back to the parking lot because there was only one lane of traffic to get back to the western side. We did get to see the last few runners/walkers go across the bridge.
My own finisher photo!
Here is the medal. What is that notch? Some people speculate that this medal is part of a puzzle piece – how creative if that is true.
- To my surprise the Across the Bay 10K was extremely organized and logistics were pretty flawless for its inaugural event.
- Dave McGillivray, the race director of the B.A.A Boston Marathon, oversaw the event.
- There were plenty of buses to shuttle runners.
- Race communications were spot on – and I applaud race management for sending that email ahead of time. An example of good PR.
- Streamline the parking pass pickup a bit. If you prepaid have it mailed or put it in the race packet.
- The race weekend also included a kids run – I am not sure where that was located.
- I hope they conduct analysis to see how many people started in different corrals and what was the distribution in times.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if they enforced the corrals next year – but it is difficult with 20,000 people. Perhaps color coding the bibs?
- This is a walker friendly event – which is great because more people can participate.
- While I love my walkers, some people started walking right away. Perhaps have walkers on one side of the bridge and runners on the other side? Race etiquette reminders could go a long way.
- I loved that this was a cupless event. It would be neat to see some races go towards this in the future. Perhaps give away handheld water bottles as swag.
- The volunteers were great and there was a large police presence on the bridge.
- Yeah for post race food in bags (which meant plenty for the BOP).
- There was a finishers festival – but we did not stay for it.
I had a great time and will definitely be back next year to race it.
Have you ever run across a bridge?
Have you seen any creative green initiatives at an event? (ex. cupless)