Thousands race into the fog and Across the Bay

More than 19,000 people ran and walked through the damp, gray air atop the Chesapeake Bay on Sunday to “Beat the Bridge.” The 4th annual Across the Bay 10k attracted athletes from all over the state and the nation— some running seriously, but all seemingly in it for the fun and unbeatable views.

Tom Brown, 49, came from Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania (just above Baltimore County) after taking 32nd place overall last year. This time, he said he was just in it for fun and photo ops.

“When do you ever get to take pictures on the Bay Bridge?” he asked.

This year’s race included 12,465 women, almost doubling the amount of men. Twelve waves of runners took off every 15 minutes between 6:45 and 9:30 a.m.

Nicole Curran, 47, came from Delaware to run her first race ever. She’d only been training for a month. Her goal was just to finish, hopefully in under two hours.

Annapolis resident Rick Hughen, 58, sucked on an energy gel packet before being released in the second wave of participants. He said he’s raced all of the previous Across the Bay 10ks, and that his father was James W. Hughen, the lead civil engineer who helped design the bridge.

“Whenever I hit the bridge, I think of my dad,” he said.

The 5th largest 10-kilometer race in the U.S. and largest race in Maryland was acquired by Ironman last year just before the 2016 event. This year’s event stayed cup-less as always. In order to keep the small paper cups traditionally used to serve water at races out of the bay, the race offered hydration station fountains. Those who stopped for a sip around the half way point on the bridge could feel the course actually bouncing up and down.

This year’s first overall finisher was 18-year-old William Jones, a freshman on the track and field team at the University of Maryland. Jones Beat the Bridge at 33:43.3, and said he took second place overall last year.

“In past years, it was always nice to see the sunrise early in the morning, but today was perfect weather for running,” he said. “Once we hit the bridge, I just started forming a gap between me and the group behind me and I tried to keep that going the whole way.”

Annapolis High alum Katie Govatos, 23, ran with a group of peers from University of Maryland Baltimore County, but pushed ahead to take first place for women and 15th overall with a time of 38:40.

Awaiting participants at the Chesapeake Business Park finish line celebration were the traditional post-race snacks like bagels, fruit, pretzels and more water, as well as a full Maryland-style celebration. Music blasted as medal-adorned finishers sipped beer and gathered around food trucks.

Currran, who ended up finishing her walk at an hour and 44 minutes, celebrated setting her best time and best pace with a shot from the Sloop Betty Vodka tent.

Sisters Dolores Fluharty, 55, and Ellen Estevez, 59, came from Southern Maryland for their third Across the Bay 10k. Once they’d finished and been given their medals, they hit the food tents.

“Oysters and shrimp make it all worthwhile— and that view,” Fluharty said.

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