Posted by: thehungryrunner | May 26, 2008

Race Report: My 4th outing to run across the Mackinaw Bridge

(To view my Photo Story of this event, click here:  Photos of Mackinaw Bridge Race.)

But first, since  video often speaks louder than words, let me share this glorious footage, obtained by my husband as he drove across the bridge during the race.  If you’re willing to watch the 3-1/2 minute video all the way through, you’ll see me in the final 6-7 seconds (I’m in orange shorts, with my ponytail bouncing).  The race has a staggered start, with runners being bussed across to the starting line in batches.  This allows people to start when they want (it’s chip-timed), which keeps us staggered and therefore safer, given we’re sharing the bridge with auto traffic.

The video captures the quiet joy of the challenge very nicely — Enjoy!

This race, the Mackinaw Memorial Bridge Race, differs from a similar event — a walk across the bridge — held on Labor Day, in that it’s a timed, running-only race. It’s been held for the last five years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to run it for the last four. It’s my favorite race, and for many reasons. It’s five miles, which for me is very doable yet still challenging. It’s consistent, in that it’s all uphill for the first half, downhill for the second, with a little bit of flat running through the neighborhood at the very end. It’s stunningly beautiful; the water, the pre-dawn sky and then the sunrise, and the vantage point that allows you to see the forested landscape across the straits. It’s symbolic; you’re “crossing the bridge” each year into your next adventures, leaving behind the previous year’s trials and triumphs, a sort of wiping the slate clean. It’s uplifiting; I get to interact and meet some of the most positive people I have ever encountered, many of whom are inspiring in how much more fit they are than myself (my latest friend is a 65-year-old gentleman who beat my finish time by over 6 minutes!). And it’s gratifying; you climb on that 5:30am bus, after having wrestled yourself out of bed at 3:30am (2:30am Chicago time, but who’s counting), with the only group of people who fully “get” why on earth you would want to arouse yourself awake and take a bus to the Upper Peninsula and start your careen across the Mack Bridge before the sun has even begun to crack the horizon.

I suppose there’s not much more to say, in terms of the specifics, about this year’s race after offering the above description, other than I definitely felt I had grown in the year since last year’s event, both personally and as a runner. My time was slightly slower (which I’d expected as I got a late start in transitioning my base running to more serious training mode this year — I like to blame the long winter 🙂 ), but my run overall was stronger, my enjoyment even higher.  And oh yes, once again we lucked out with the weather:  though it started out a chilly 38 degrees, there was little wind (and what wind there was was on our backs — hooray!), the skies were once again clear as a bell.  At one point, as I surveyed the landscape on the Michigan side, I noticed that among the thick mass of trees, there was a “splotch” of isolated fog, probably about an acre in diameter, which I assumed to be a lake giving off its cloak of mist in the morning air.  Does it GET any better than that???

A fantastic kickoff to both the summer and racing season!

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