Bay Bridge Marathon
October 20, 2002
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
Running any marathon is an adventure in which the outcome is unpredictable. Running an inaugural marathon a few hundred feet above the Atlantic Ocean for 13 miles was very special. On Sunday, October 20, 2002, there were only a few participants from the Pacific Coast states. Among them were To
dd Byers, J. Ellis, Ed Driver, Don Lang and myself.....runners from Washington and California.
I had set the alarm for 3:30 a.m. at the hotel at Virginia Beach, VA. By 4:00 a.m., I boarded one of 31 large buses that would take the runners to the starting line near the northern terminus of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The 7:00 a.m. start was at dawn, and the field of 900 runners were facing
south and ready to race. When the gun started the race, I ran with the other runners and took stock of my surroundings.
The sky was overcast, and the air temperature was in the high 50's. This made for good running. However, there was a 10-15 mph headwind that was constant and slowed the pace. In my case, the wind in the first 13 miles caused me to run a negative split of one minute and 20 seconds. In all dire
ctions were open seas with no sign of land in the early miles of the race. The water was turbulent due to the wind, and whitecaps were common. Patrol boats that provided safety for the runners were commonplace as they churned a foamy wake. In the distance were huge cargo ships that may have be
en anchored while waiting to be unloaded at docking facilities.
Gulls and cormorants flying by were the only wildlife in sight. The bridge is actually two level bridges positioned side by side that carry one-way traffic going either north or south. During the race the runners had full possession of the southbound bridge, and all vehicular traffic was on the
other span. To keep shipping channels open, these bridges are interrupted in two places and replaced with one mile tunnels.
From the runner's point of view, the tunnels gave respite from the wind and brought brief downhills and uphills as one enters and leaves the tunnels. These provided a change of pace from level course running. Eventually the shoreline came into view, and container cranes and buildings could be m
ade out. At the half marathon mark, we reached shore. A two-lane road took us to rolling countryside that was rural and wooded in Seashore State Park. This was followed by residential developments on the way to the resort city of Virginia Beach. The race concluded on the paved boardwalk under
a sunny sky with the temperature in the high 60's.
The marathon was won by Mikhail Khobotov, 28, of Russia in 2:21:14. He raced alone throughout the course. In second, third and fourth places were Simon Sawe, 27, of Kenya (2:25:25), Abner Chipu, 30, of South Africa (2:27:49), and Ayele Mezegbu, 29, of Ethiopia (2:36:11). The women frontrunners
were fifth and sixth overall. Coming in first for the women was Lieila Aman, 26, of Ethiopia (2:40:32). Close behind were Zivile Balciunaite, 23, of Lithuania (2:41:31) and Aniel Nikiel, 36, of Poland (2:43:47). Top prizes for men and women were $10,000 for first place and scaled down to $300
for tenth place.....a total of $50,000!!!
The runners whom I know follow in these partial results from the 850 finishers.
328 4:06:59 Todd Byers, 39, Long Beach, CA
387 4:17:38 Bob Dolphin, 73, Renton/Yakima, WA,
First in age division
489 4:32:15 J. Ellis, 43, Tacoma, WA
5:02:00 Ed Driver, 77, Pasadena, CA,
Second in age division
5:06:17 Brenton Floyd, 17, Henderson, TN,
(50 States & DC FINISHER)
Fifth in age division
6:07:20 Don Lang, 65+, Glendale, CA (300+ Marathoner)
J. Ellis wasn't fully recovered from his marathoning of the previous weekend. During that busy time he ran the Greater Hartford (CN) Marathon on Saturday, October 12th, and the Ocean State (RI) Marathon on Sunday, October 13. Truly a marathoning weekend!
Thanks go to J. Ellis for arranging a pre-race carbo dinner. Attending were Jay, his friend Meredith Johnson, his daughter Jennifer and grandson Dylan, Todd Byers and his friend Angie MCusker, Ed and Lois Driver, my wife Lenore and myself. It was a festive meal with good company.
A special treat at the Expo was to visit with Bill Rogers and talk to him about running and marathoning. When I started running in 1979, he was the four time winner of both the Boston and New York City Marathons. He ran on a relay team during the Bay Bridge Marathon. Lenore visited with Bill,
too, and with Betty Burrell, a 50 Stater from Henderson, TN. Betty is recovering from knee surgery, so her grandson Brenton Floyd, 17, had to run this marathon without her. They're on their second round of running a marathon in all fifty states and DC.
This was an interesting inaugural marathon that has the professional guidance of Dave McGillivray, race director of the Boston Marathon. Thanks go to Dave who directed this race, to his committee and to the sponsors and volunteers for putting on a great inaugural race.
Written by Bob Dolphin