MARATHON, Fla. (CBSMiami) – The Seven Mile Bridge, longest of 42 spans on the Florida Keys’ Overseas Highway, is to close temporarily to vehicular traffic during the early morning hours Saturday, April 13, for the 32nd annual footrace over the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies are to stop traffic for the Seven Mile Bridge Run beginning at 6:45 a.m. and are to reopen the bridge at 9 a.m., according to Capt. Chad Scibilia.
The race is set to begin at 7:30 a.m. at the east end of the bridge in Marathon.
The field of 1,500 runners has been filled since mid-February, said organizer Bobbie Bayles, adding that competitors from more than 30 states and Canada are registered.
Some runners in the 2013 men’s division will aim for the course record that is still held by Paul Marmaro, who ran 32 minutes and 59 seconds in 1998. Marmaro, a former Delray Beach, Fla., fitness instructor, said by phone that he can’t participate this year because he just relocated to San Rafael, Calif. However, he hopes to compete in 2014 and was surprised to learn that his record still stands.
“I am amazed because there have been multiple guys that have made the Olympic trials who have ran that race,” he said. “Three other times I’ve run within 15 seconds of that (the record) time.”
Marmaro said he is saddened to miss this year because the race is his favorite.
“I’ve never had pain competing,” he said. “It’s a magical course and I’ve always tried to run as fast as I could.”
Sonja Friend-Uhl of Brentwood, Tenn., maintains the women’s record of 37:15, set in 2004.
In 2012, Marmaro was among disappointed runners after organizers were forced to cancel the bridge run because of lightning and storms that triggered safety concerns. It marked the first cancellation since the initial event was staged in 1982, heralding the completion of a then-new Seven Mile Bridge and the conclusion of a $185 million program to rebuild 37 Overseas Highway bridges.
Some familiar top finishers who are registered for 2013 include Jon Williams of Miami and Helena Bursa of Big Pine Key, Fla. Chad Wilkinson of West Palm Beach, Fla., the men’s second-place overall winner in 2011, is top seeded for this year’s run.
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