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Florida Keys bridge race attracts 1,500 runners

Florida Keys Seven Mile Bridge Run draws thousands
Florida Keys Seven Mile Bridge Run draws thousands 00:31
Competitors in the Seven Mile Bridge Run in the Florida Keys, make their way to the finish line Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Marathon, Fla. The annual race across the longest of 42 bridges that help comprise the Florida Keys Overseas Highway attracted 1,500 participants. The contest began in 1982 to mark the completion of a then-new Seven Mile Bridge that replaced an aging bridge, right, constructed in in the early 1900s as a facet of the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad and converted to carry vehicular traffic in 1938. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO) Andy Newman

MARATHON — A footrace over the Florida Keys Overseas Highway's longest bridge drew 1,500 participants Saturday, all competing to post the fastest time in the 43rd annual Seven Mile Bridge Run.

Collin Wainwright, 28, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was first across the finish line with a time of 40 minutes and 33 seconds. He also claimed the top spot in the men's division.

Joanna Stephens, 29, of Dallas, Georgia, completed the course in 43:13 to win the women's division for the second consecutive year.

Finishing second overall with a time of 40:37 was 16-year-old Vaclav "Vance" Bursa of Big Pine Key, Florida, the winner of last year's race. He was followed in third place by Christian Vazquez, 29, of Lehigh Acres, Florida, with a time of 41:13.

Anne DenOtter, 27, of Tavernier, Florida, posted a women's division second-place time of 43:52. Key Largo, Florida, resident Holly Smith, 39, placed third with a time of 44:44.

The course record remains at 32:57, set in 1998 by former Florida resident Paul Marmaro.

The annual race, capped at 1,500 runners each year, drew competitors from around the United States and other countries including Germany and France. 

Begun in 1982, the footrace over the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico was part of festivities celebrating the completion of a project to build 37 new Keys bridges to replace converted railroad bridges constructed in the early 1900s.

The run closed the span between the Middle and Lower Keys to vehicular traffic for three hours Saturday morning. Race organizers and Keys officials publicized the event well in advance to minimize traffic problems, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

Just getting a chance to compete is challenging. The April contest is one of the most popular running events in the southeastern United States, and the 1,500-runner field filled within minutes after online registration opened in January.

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