Tampa Bay’s Skyway Bridge is truly a sight to behold. The iconic structure could soon be used for more than just vehicles. On June 4, the Palmetto City Commission approved plans for a half marathon to be run on New Year’s Day 2018, reports Mark Young of the Bradenton Herald.
Runners attempt to conquer the Skyway
The proposed event would see runners move from the southbound Sunshine Skyway rest area to Blackstone Park in Palmetto on New Year’s Day. The Sunshine Skyway Half Marathon has an inaugural participant goal of 5,500 — 5,000 paid runners and 500 charity runners.
Setup for the event would begin on December 30 of this year from noon until 8pm. On New Year’s Eve, event coordinators would host a special yoga class in the park along with a pasta dinner for participants.
Festivities begin at 3am on New Year’s Day
At 3am on New Year’s Day 2018, runners will enjoy a special breakfast. Shuttle service to the starting line begins at 4am. The viewing party gathers at 6am and the race officially begins at 7am and the event comes to a close at noon.
From the organizers:
The unique 13.1-mile course will provide participants with a unique view of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge & Tampa Bay, allowing them to take in the spectacular sights as they ascend approximately 200′ over Tampa Bay. The race will begin on the exit ramp of the southbound 1-275 rest area (St. Petersburg) making its way down US-19 into Palmetto, where the race will come to its conclusion at Blackstone Park.
Event planned for day with the lowest traffic count on the bridge
The date and time of the event have been strategically planned for one of two days with the lowest total traffic count on the bridge. The three-hour road closure would affect roughly 1,000 southbound vehicles based on data provided by the FDOT, Florida Turnpike Enterprises.
Proposed schedule of rest area and road closures:
- Southbound rest areas — 2am
- Northbound rest areas — 6am
- I-275/US-19/Bus. 41 South closes to commuter traffic — 6am-9am
- 1-275/US-19/Bus. 41 South closes to event shuttles — 6:30am
Local charities to directly benefit from event
Organizers have proposed a variety of local charities to receive direct financial support from the event, including Rays Community Foundation, Keep Manatee Beautiful, Keep Pinellas Beautiful, and Southeastern Guide Dogs.
The Skyway Bridge crosses the boundary of four local governments: City of St. Pete, Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, and Manatee County. One government must approve the event and the others must state in writing that they do not have any objections to it.