The Bay Bridge Run: Despite the incline, I ran my fastest 10K of the year

Vanessa Junkin poses in front of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Here I am before the start of The Bay Bridge Run on Nov. 13.

I knew the incline of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge would be a challenge during The Bay Bridge Run, but I also knew from the previous year that even if I had a slower mile in the beginning, all hope would not be lost. I could make up time on the downhill.

I’ve done this race many times, so for this year’s race, on Sunday, Nov. 13, I figured I would try to focus on speed instead of stopping for photos or taking video footage on the bridge. My other 10Ks this year — the Run for the Animals 10K and the Mike Sterling 10K — were both in the 1:03s, so I figured I could run in the 1:02s. That’s exactly what I did.

My friend Veronica and I stayed in the Kent Island area for the race, and she also got us VIP passes. With the VIP passes, we were able to park by the finish line and ride a charter bus to the start, have a separate starting area in the corral with porta-potties, and get access to the VIP finish tent, with additional food, drinks and porta-potties.

We went up to the expo at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis that Saturday, and it was easy to get our race packets, which included a long-sleeve shirt and bib.

Selfie by Vanessa Junkin holding medal, with text reading "Bay Bridge Run," "6.20 mi distance," "1:02:55 time" and "10:09/mi pace."
I took a selfie with my medal after the race.

On race morning, it was chilly and windy, but it wasn’t too bad. The wind actually seemed to be behind us the whole way, a nice change from the Atlantic City Marathon I’d just run. I wore a jacket at the start, but I still wore shorts, which I always prefer. I ended up tying the jacket around my waist a mile or two in.

I knew to expect a slower pace on the incline, and my plan was then to pick up the pace once the bridge flattened out and went down. Last year, my second mile was my slowest of the race at 12:00, but my average pace was still 10:23.

This year, my second mile was also my slowest, at 11:55, but I ran the next four miles in the 9s and averaged a 10:09 pace. When Veronica and I were driving back from the expo the day before the race, we tracked the length of the worst of the incline (about a mile) and noticed where it ended, and I kept that in mind as I ran.

I had been having some hamstring-area pain that randomly came on in the week leading up to the race. Although I noticed it during the race, I don’t think it had a major impact, and it went away before my next race, the Tuckahoe 25K, which was the following weekend.

Afterward, I enjoyed the VIP tent with Veronica and also got to meet up with some other Eastern Shore Running Club members. We had more than 70 people sign up for the Eastern Shore Running Club social team for this race.

My finish time was 1:02:37, but I kept running just a little bit more so that I would reach 6.2 miles on my watch. My time on my watch was 1:02:55.

Like the Across the Bay 10K before this, The Bay Bridge Run also has a puzzle-piece medal for five years. This year’s medal looks like a puzzle piece, but it doesn’t actually connect to last year’s piece. There is a holder available for purchase that has the first medal of the series slightly in front of the other medals.

This was my fastest 10K since 2019, and I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. I’d like to see if I can get my 10K time back under an hour in 2023.

Close-up of the Bay Bridge Run medal, which is blue with a crab and the name of the race on it.
Here’s a close-up of the Bay Bridge Run medal.


Mile 1: 10:20
Mile 2: 11:55
Mile 3: 9:59
Mile 4: 9:40
Mile 5: 9:46
Mile 6: 9:26
Last part (.2): 1:46 (8:48 pace)

Time on results: 1:02:37 (10:06 pace); time on watch: 1:02:55 (10:09 pace)

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