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Bay Bridge Run to be 'virtual' race this year; bridge unavailable due to maintenance

The 2019 Across the Bay 10k will not take place on the Bay Bridge this year but will be a “virtual” race as the bridge undergoes maintenance.

People come from out of state for the chance to run or walk across the Bay Bridge, with most of the course overlooking the water. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is usually closed to pedestrian traffic.

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But this year, the IRONMAN Foundation will instead host a virtual run, encouraging participants to run the 6.2 miles at their convenience, according to a release from the foundation. T-shirts and finisher medals will be mailed to participants who sign up online and pay the $30 registration fee.

A Chesapeake Bay Bridge system preservation project is scheduled on the date when race organizers planned to have the event, said Kerry Brandt, deputy director of communications for the Maryland Transportation Authority, which maintains the bridge.

The agency gives the Across the Bay 10k organization access to the bridge when it can, Brandt said. The authority offered the IRONMAN Foundation, which sponsors the race, alternative dates and locations, Brandt added.

Runners cross the Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore in the annual Across the Bay 10K.

In an April 3 news release, the foundation acknowledged the bridge maintenance project and said it “determined that alternative dates and routes that would give athletes an equal experience was not available.”

Representatives from IRONMAN could not immediately be reached for comment.

The run will still benefit local nonprofits including the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department, the release said.

The paraphernalia is slated to be shipped to participants in the first week of November, according to the Across the Bay 10k website.

Brandt said the transportation authority will release more information about the bridge maintenance project in the fall.

“We need to get it done during an off peak-season time,” Brandt said, explaining that the summer travel season, which begins in May, is the busiest time for bay bridge traffic.

IRONMAN will continue discussions with the transportation authority about the 2020 edition of the race, Keats McGonigal, regional director, said in the release.

In 2016, IRONMAN took over organization of the event, which is one of the largest 10k races in the country. Last year’s race marked the fifth consecutive year for the annual race.

From 1975 to 2006, people could cross the bridge by foot at least once a year with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Walk and the Governor's Bay Bridge Run, according to the Ironman website.

For several years after 2006, the annual bridge walk was canceled due to construction projects, security concerns and cost concerns.

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