Bay Bridge Run 2021: A Great Course With a Bad Start

by - Monday, November 01, 2021

On Sunday morning, my mom and I ran the 2021 Bay Bridge Run 10K. It was our first in-person race since the pandemic started, and I was so excited to be racing again.

I had done this same run back in 2015, when it was called the Across the Bay 10K and was managed by a different race company. I had a great time in that race and was excited to run across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge again. 


The morning started early with a drive out to Navy's football stadium where we would board shuttles to the start line at the base of the east-bound span of the bridge. This is where things started to go wrong when it came to race logistics.

We got into the parking lot around 7 a.m. about 30 minutes before our instructions said we needed to be on a shuttle. We used the porta-potties, and then got in the back of the massive line of people also waiting to board shuttles. 


We waited in line for a while to go through security that ensured we had a race bib and a mask. We were finally settled on our bus at 7:36 a.m. and started the drive to the start line. 

Our wave wasn't scheduled to start until 8:30, so I wasn't too worried that we were running a bit behind schedule. Our shuttle dropped us off at the starting area around 8, which still left of us plenty of time for one more bathroom run and to make our way to the start line. 

And this is where things got really bad. There was an incredibly long line of people waiting to get into the corrals. So we got into the back of it, figuring it was all the people in the 8:15 wave waiting to start. Because the bridge is only so wide, this race is really strict about leaving 15 minutes in between waves. 


Eventually race organizers sent tons more people over and the whole concept of waiting in a line was thrown out and it was sort of a mad surge to get into the starting area. We heard the 8:15 wave go off, and we were still no where near the start line. 

We waited some more and then eventually another wave went off at 8:30. That was supposed to be our wave, and we were supposedly the "last" wave according to the website. But there were still tons of people waiting to start. 

We eventually made our way to the start line and were able to start with a group at 8:45. My friend's mom who was supposed to start at 7:45 wasn't able to start until 8:15. So I don't know what went on at the race start but it was so horribly unorganized. I was annoyed we had to wait an extra 15 minutes, but I would have been especially pissed if I got there super early and then had to wait an extra half hour just to start. 


Once we were actually able to start, the race was about as great as I remembered it. It was so fun to be running across the bridge. The views were spectacular, though I didn't stop to take any pictures because I was feeling pretty good about my pace. 

The only thing that wasn't great was that the waves weren't organized by pace, so I kept running into packs of walkers four or five across, which made it kind of hard to maneuver. 

Other than having to bob and weave a bunch, I felt really good about this run. I started out pushing the pace a little bit, and was happy that I was able to run pretty consistently for the first two miles, which are a slow and steady uphill climb. I was actually really impressed by how easy the big hill felt. Must be because of all the training I've been doing on the hills in my neighborhood. 

Once I crested the top of the bridge, I just let gravity carry me the down the other side. I was moving pretty fast, checking my watch sometimes seeing 8-minute mile paces. I didn't feel like I was working too hard though, so I just went with it, banking lots of time in those two miles.

When you finally get off the bridge, there's still about 1.5 miles of running left. The course pretty quickly veers off Rte. 50 dumping you into a back road or parking lot. The finish line was in a different place compared to the last time I ran, and this time we had a bit more climbing to do to get up to an overpass that would take us across the highway. 

The course got super narrow here because the overpass was still open to traffic, and several runners had a hard time getting past the walkers walking four across. Runners were shouting on your left and excuse me, trying to get by. I hopped into the grass a few times to trying to get around people. 

We eventually made it to the final turn on the course, and I was able to pick up a little more speed to get myself across the finish line. 

My official time was 57:39, only about a minute and a half off my 10K PR. 

I was super happy with how I ran this race. I felt strong the whole time and had a little left in the tank for a small surge at the end. This race gave me a lot of confidence that my half marathon in two weeks will go well too and that all these weeks of training based on heart rate are really paying off. 

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  1. Great story! I have fond memories of the one time I ran it years ago but the assembly point was different and there were some other changes. I didn't have to worry about the crowds because there was a separate event for walkers later in the day. The views from the crest are truly astounding. Oh, I thought the upslope was much steeper than it was so I had been "training" by running up and down Massachusetts Avenue.