Some people are afraid to drive across the Bay Bridge, as it stretches 4.3 miles across the open Chesapeake Bay and reaches a height of 186 feet above the water.
And then there are those who tackle the entire bridge—from Annapolis to Kent Island—on foot.
That unique experience is the premise of the Bay Bridge Run, a 10k (6.2-mile) race that will draw some 16,000 participants to run or walk across the bridge on Sunday, Nov. 13.
The idea of crossing the bridge on foot began in 1975, when a Towson Boy Scout leader asked Governor Marvin Mandel if his troop could walk across the bridge during a maintenance project. The idea took off and became the state-run Bay Bridge Walk, which longtime Marylanders will remember taking place for three decades, until it ended in 2006 as a cost-cutting measure.
In 2013, the event returned as a 10k footrace, saw success, and continues today as the Bay Bridge Run.
The race takes place on the eastbound span of the bridge. Runners cross from east to west as a point-to-point race, then they are bussed back across the westbound span on continuously running shuttles at the end of the day.
Participants gather at the Northrop Grumman campus on the Bay’s west bank while the morning sun comes up to the east, and finishes with a party on Kent Island. On a crisp fall day, racers will tell you the views from both sides are stunning.
But the Bay Bridge Run isn’t just for runners, and in fact more walkers tend to register than runners, organizer Corrigan Sports tells us.
“This is a bucket list item for a lot of people,” says Amanda Corrigan, assistant marketing director for the company that also puts on the annual Baltimore Running Festival.
Many people stop along the way for selfies. Corrigan says most participants come from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania—those who are familiar with using the bridge by car. But the race also attracts some runners and walkers from 44 different states.
To keep the Bay free of unnecessary negative environmental impacts from the race, it’s considered a “cupless” race. Participants are expected to bring their own water bottle or container so that no disposable cups end up in the water or along the shoreline.
The Bay Bridge Run supports several charities, like the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department and Signal 13 Foundation. For the first time this year, they’ll raise funds for Walk the Walk, a Maryland-based organization that collects things like diapers and backpacks full of school supplies for underserved families.
You can register for the Bay Bridge Run here.
-Meg Walburn Viviano