Oct. 31 was a beautiful day to run across the Bay Bridge

View of a sunrise from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, with runners going across the bridge to the right.
I stopped on the bridge for this pretty photo of the sunrise (Vanessa Junkin photo).
Vanessa Junkin stands against backdrop with water, sunrise and bridge.
Here I am before the start of the Bay Bridge Run (Veronica James photo).

The opportunity to run across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge returned last month after a three-year hiatus. This year, the race had a new name, the Bay Bridge Run — which was basically its unofficial name anyway — and new management, Corrigan Sports.

I had a fun weekend, and although it was the largest event I’d participated in since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with more than 10,000 participants, I never felt too cramped or crowded.

Race weekend started on Saturday, when my friend Veronica and I headed up to Annapolis to get our packets. She had gotten the VIP package for us, which was a nice perk! When we arrived at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the lines were extremely long. There weren’t signs or any sign of a VIP area, so we weren’t sure if the line was just to get in.

However, we heard someone else say there was no line for the 8:00 wave, which made us think there must be a separate VIP spot. There was, so we were able to get our bibs and shirts quickly once we realized that, but hopefully this will be rectified for next year, as the lines were ridiculous. Aside from the expo, everything seemed to run smoothly.

We had an early wake-up call the next morning, as we had chosen the 7:15 a.m. wave and needed to be at our shuttle bus an hour ahead of time. We stayed nearby in Grasonville, and since we had the VIP package, we could park by the finish line and would ride a bus to the start — but then wouldn’t have to ride one back at the end. It was actually a charter bus, which was nice. Masks were required on the bus, which I appreciated.

Once we got to the start, there was a VIP area that had two porta-potties and some snacks. I didn’t have any of the snacks, but it was nice to have a waiting area with more space and the porta-potties. Then, we were allowed to start when we wanted to. The start of the race was delayed a little, so we ended up running with the first wave, which actually started at 7:15 a.m.

Vanessa Junkin takes selfie holding Bay Bridge Run medal.
Here I am with my medal after completing the run.

I have been training for the Philadelphia Marathon, and with pretty much perfect race weather, I wanted to see how I could do. Garmin Connect logged the run as 52 degrees and sunny (actually with 100 percent humidity).

I figured I wouldn’t stop for a photo unless I didn’t feel good. I did change my mind upon seeing the beautiful sunrise from the Bay Bridge, but I just stopped for that one photo and was still able to run my fastest 10K of the year. I wore a short-sleeve pink Eastern Shore Running Club shirt and candy corn shorts, since it was Halloween, with skin-tight black shorts underneath to avoid chafing.

We were able to get to 40 members on our Eastern Shore Running Club social team, which meant we got a tent at the post-race party. We only hit that mark with a few days to spare, so we didn’t really have time to plan, the tent did turn out to be a great meeting spot.

Since the race is across a bridge, the first two or so miles are mostly an incline. I knew this going into it, and I figured I could make up some time on the way down, which I did. I ran the first mile in 10:43, which was pretty close to the time I’d need to beat my fastest 10K of the year (sub-10:30 pace). During the next mile, I walked a little bit, needing a brief break from running uphill. I also stopped for the photo during this mile. This mile took me 12:00.

But I felt good, and I was able to speed up. With the downhill, I ran the next three miles at 10:05, 9:51 and 10:08, which made me feel confident. There is another hill once off the bridge and on the road, but I was still feeling strong and kept running, completing the last mile in 9:48. I logged the last 0.2 miles in an 8:54 pace. I crossed the finish line with my watch reading 6.18, so I kept running so I could have 6.2 miles on my watch.

So, my official time was 1:04:13, while I had 1:04:27 on my watch — a 10:23 pace. Both times were faster than my previous fastest 10K of the year, the Mike Sterling 10K, which I ran in 1:05:17.

Selfie of two runners wearing race medals.
I met my distant relative Ashli at the Bay Bridge Run!

There was a VIP tent at the finish, with boxed sandwiches, snacks, a beer/beverage server, porta-potties, tables and chairs. I’d picked up some snacks after finishing the race, but right away, I had a doughnut and some coffee. I got the sandwich, though I was more in the mood for breakfast that early in the morning. I also got a free pumpkin pie-flavored popsicle from Tasty Toucan. I’m always in the mood for desserts.

Veronica and I met up with other Eastern Shore Running Club members at our social team tent. At one point, I headed back to the VIP tent to go to the bathroom when someone came up to me and asked if I had a blog, and if my last name was Junkins. I told her yes and that my last name was Junkin! It turned out she was a fellow Junkin, and I also talked to her daughter — we got a photo together. It seems we are distantly related. How random and fun! What are the odds?

Swag was a short-sleeve tech shirt — I chose white between the white and black — and the finisher medal starts a new five-year puzzle.

I felt strong during the run and like I could have kept going, even with the fast finish. I attribute this to my marathon training, and I’m excited to see how the marathon goes in less than two weeks.

Splits

Mile 1: 10:43
Mile 2: 12:00
Mile 3: 10:05
Mile 4: 9:51
Mile 5: 10:08
Mile 6: 9:48
Last part (.2): 1:49 (8:54 pace)
Final Time: 1:04:27/10:23 pace on watch; 1:04:13/10:22 pace on results

Read my BibRave review, and write your own, here.


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