Florida Keys student Aydan Child claimed the overall men’s title during Saturday’s 37th annual Seven Mile Bridge Run across the Florida Keys Overseas Highway’s longest bridge.
Child, 17, finished first among some 1,500 participants with a time of 40 minutes and one second. The Marathon high school junior has been running the iconic race since age nine.
“I race to win, and I knew I’d be in good shape for it,” said Child, who trains with his cross country and track teams, and led the field of competitors the entire length of the span.
“I was definitely wanting to make it my race, to be in control of it and make it my own,” he added.
Nicholas Brazier Alvarado, 34, and Tuan Nguyen, 28, completed the race in 40:27 and 40:36, respectively, to place second and third in the men’s division. Both are Fort Lauderdale, Fla., residents.
Laura DiBella, 39, of Fernandina Beach, Fla., completed the course in 42:43 to win the women’s division, besting her third-place finish last year by more than two minutes. DiBella has either won or placed among the top three finishers four times in six consecutive races.
Jennifer Absher, 31, from Melbourne, Fla., posted a second-place time of 43:56 in the women’s division. Delray Beach, Fla., resident Simona Zacharova, 30, placed third with a time of 47:52.
The footrace over the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico was established in 1982 to mark the completion of a project to build 37 new Keys bridges, which replaced converted railroad bridges constructed in the early 1900s by Florida developer Henry Flagler.
The run closed the span between the Middle and Lower Keys for just over two hours Saturday morning, but 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 has become one of the most popular running events in the southeastern United States, and the 1,500-runner field filled within minutes after online registration went live in February.