04 Mar 7,000 Runners Prepare For Debut Race Across Skyway Bridge
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – It’s a sight that hasn’t been seen in 30 years. On Sunday, March 4, 7,000 runners will race across the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the debut of the Skyway 10K.
Race spokesman James Judge said runners were so eager to participate in this historic event, it took just five days to fill the registration quota for the race.
"That’s unbelievable," said Judge. "Our race director, Norm Pingley, has organized 500 races around the world, and he said this level of participation is unprecedented."
The Skyway 10k, Saluting Military Families is the first running event across the Skyway Bridge since it opened in 1987.
"There was a run before the bridge opened to vehicular traffic but there hasn’t been an event since," Judge said.
He attributes the overwhelming support to two factors.
"First, this event benefits such a great cause: military families," he said. "Americans understand and appreciate the sacrifices undertaken by our military and their families waiting at home."
Secondly, said Judge, it will be the first time in the bridge’s 30-year history that it will be partially closed for a road race, allowing runners to race across the four-mile-long structure that sits 190 feet above Tampa Bay.
"People are really looking forward to the opportunity to run across the Skyway," Judge said. "It’s going to be an amazing experience."
Judge said this debut event has attracted running enthusiasts from three countries and 40 states.
Furthermore, 10 percent of the participants Sunday will be active-duty military, members of the reserves or military veterans, he said.
"We have representatives from all five branches of the military," Judge said.
Thaddeus Foster, a board member of the Armed Forces Families Foundation, was thrilled with the response.
"We are grateful and humbled by the tremendous outpouring of support and the level of interest in the inaugural Skyway 10k," Foster said. "We’re looking forward to sharing this event with the community for years to come."
The run will begin on Interstate 275 at the rest area just south of the bridge and end at the rest area on the morth side of the bridge, a total of 6.2 miles.
Participants will be bussed from Tropicana Field to the south end of the bridge and then picked up by buses on the north end of the bridge to return to Tropicana Field for the awards ceremony.
Only the northbound lanes of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge are scheduled to be closed at 4 a.m. and reopen by 10 a.m.
All proceeds from the event will go to support the Armed Forces Families Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that gives 100 percent of the funds it raises back to projects to help military families.
For more information, visit the Skyway 10K website.
Image via Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office