Bridges, Races and Views – Oh my!
Some of the most amazing views of crystal blue waters and fascinating cityscapes come while atop a bridge. And while most only get to drive over, we runners get a unique opportunity to appreciate the scenery and elegant architecture up close and personal – here are (7) bridges worth running over:
1. BIXBY CREEK BRIDGE – Big Sur CA – 1932
Built to connect Big Sur residents to Carmel during the harsh winter months, this concrete reinforced open-spandrel arch bridge sits on a National Scenic Byway on Coastal State Route 1. As one of the most photographed bridges on the West Coast, its aesthetic design overlooks picturesque views of its green mountains, rocky coastline, steep cliffs, and remote waters. Rising 260 feet above the canyon, it is one of the World’s highest single span bridges and one of the many highlights of the Big Sur International Marathon.
Big Sur International Marathon – April – Making a regular appearance on bucket-list races, this Boston Qualifier celebrates runners with a post-race massage, free beer, and a military discount.
**Fun Fact: The bridge is honored on a commemorative postage stamp, and it’ll only cost you $18.50 – equivalent to 39 stamps – wowzer!
2. QUEEN ISABELLA CAUSEWAY – South Padre Island TX – 1974
A 2.3-mile steel stringer bridge, it is the only road connecting South Padre Island to the mainland. While it serves as a lifeline to resident islanders, for the rest of us it’s a link to a resort town with bright sunny skies and white sandy beaches. Though in 2001 instead of London Bridges falling down, it was the Queen Isabella Causeway that fell. A tugboat steered four loaded barges into the bridge causing a massive gap, however since then, safety has been revamped including reinforced walls and a fiber optic driver warning system.
South Padre Island Marathon – November – This Boston Qualifier takes place on the southern tip of Texas. A popular Spring Break destination, it is also known amongst families for its fishing, water sport activities and white sandy beaches.
**Fun Fact: The original Queen Isabella Causeway was a draw bridge built in 1954, and had to be re-built due to poor construction. Today, parts of the old bridge are still used as the fishing pier. Hook, line and sinker.
3. DECEPTION PASS BRIDGE – Whidbey Island WA – 1935
Connecting the gap between Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands in the Puget Sound, this cantilever bridge is a beloved Pacific-Northwest statement. Set high above old growth forests and abundant wildlife of Deception State Park, this bridge sits on a friendly island known for its parks, festivals, wildlife and outdoor activity.
Whidbey Island Marathon – April
Deception Pass 50K and 25K – December
Both races offer a celebratory free beer. However, if you’re looking for a Qualifier with stroller-friendly 10K and 5K races, then the Whidbey Island Marathon may be more your speed.
**Fun Fact: Deception Pass Bridge is actually two spans – its neighbor, the Canoe Pass Bridge, is slightly smaller. Talk about building bridges.
4. AMBASSADOR INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE – Detroit MI – 1929
Lose yourself in the moment as you cruise over this 1.4-mile suspension bridge that connects Detroit MI in the United States to Windsor ON in Canada. With 25% of all U.S.-Canada merchandise trade crossing this structure; be prepared for car-hauling trucks to make their own Motown music by honking in support. So grab your sneakers and passport, and head to Motor City for a two-for-one race that includes the U.S. and Canada. Superior, eh?
Detroit Marathon – October – Running over water isn’t enough for this race; this Boston Qualifier also has the only underground mile through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. If time isn’t of the essence for you, be sure to snap a shot while straddling the U.S.-Canada border line.
**Fun Fact: Controversy surrounds the bridge as it is a privately-owned for-profit business – unique for an international border crossing. Hmmm.
5. VERRAZANO-NARROWS BRIDGE – New York NY – 1964
Start spreading the news, because there’s no better way to start a marathon than belting Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York as your run across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge with fellow runners from 140+ countries. This 2.6-mile, double-decker suspension bridge let’s runners take a bite out of the big apple, not only because it’s the longest suspension bridge in the Americas, but also because with no pedestrian walkway this the only way to transverse the bridge by foot.
New York City Marathon – November – Get in an Empire State of Mind and run the streets of one of the most celebrated skylines in the world with this famous Boston Qualifier. These streets will inspire you.
**Fun Fact: Named after explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the bridge name incorrectly spells his name with one Z instead of two. Bummer.
6. SEVEN MILE BRIDGE – Florida Keys FL – 1982
Run on water atop one of the longest segmental bridges in the world. Connecting several islands in the Keys, this bridge over troubled water was originally the Overseas Railroad – which was destroyed by fierce hurricanes. Now known as the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, is it used by pedestrians and has future plans to connect Key Largo to Key West. However, in effort to make new bridges, but keep the old ones, a second structure has been built directly next door to connect US 1.
Keys 100 – May – Run to the southernmost city in the continental U.S., and reward yourself with some laid back attitudes, warm climate, and variety of water sports.
**Fun Fact: This is the longest of the 42 bridges on Overseas Highway running through the Keys.
7. GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE – San Francisco CA – 1937
No bridge is more iconic than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Though the build was initially fiercely fought by locals; this suspension bridge spanning 1.7 miles is now one of the world’s most photographed images. Surrounded by high winds, thick fog, rocky terrain, and relentless tides, the bridge is known for its famous International Orange paint color – provided by none other than Sherwin Williams. Though runners cross during their race, it’s worth returning to the Welcome Center and its plaza experience informational exhibits, purchase merchandise, and grab a refreshment at the Bridge Café. You can set a date with the gate, and a free beer, at these racecation events:
**Fun Fact: Workers who fell from the bridge – but were caught in the safety net – are said to be part of the “Halfway to Hell Club”.