Cow Key Channel Bridge Run
Saturday, April 18th 2015 High Noon

"We're going to milk it for everything it's got "

BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff -  gfilosa@keysnews.com

'David Sloan, who helped write the book "Quit Your Job and Move to Key West" and just started his second ghost tour company, has made a good living in Key West searching for good times.  But his one brush with the island's endurance sports culture isn't his favorite memory.  "I almost died; I finished second to last and that person had an injury," Sloan said of a Hemingway Days 5K race his buddy, Chris Shultz, talked him into doing years back.  So, with a touch of poetic justice, Sloan and pals Shultz, Michael Marrero and Marky Pierson have devised a Zero K race set for noon April 5 at the tiny Cow Key Channel Bridge.  The concrete slab bridge, built in 1978 and owned by the state, measures 360 feet.  "There will be a water station set up midway for those who are exhausted," Sloan said.  In triathlon-obsessed Key West, where locals invest big cash and long hours into training for some serious events in and out of the Florida Keys, the Cow Key bridge run made a splash with those whose idea of fitness is a pub crawl.  "There are a lot of us who can't physically run a 5K, but we want to say we've crossed a bridge," said Sloan, 44, while barside at the Hurricane Hole restaurant steps away from where the inaugural Cow Key Channel Bridge Run will take place.  "And we want a T-shirt," Sloan said with a poker face as he and Shultz sipped Bud Lights and took turns digging into a plate of nachos.  Registration is free and a signup system will go up online soon, organizers said.  T-shirt sales, paid for by various local sponsors, will benefit the animal farm at the Monroe County Sheriff's Office site on College Road.  Within 24 hours of posting the event on Facebook, more than 100 people said they were down for the 0K race. Local humor poured into comment boxes, like sweat off an Ironman winner's brow.  "I'm thinking of putting together a relay team with support vehicles for this," photographer Larry Blackburn posted.  As of Saturday, 404 people clicked "going" on the Facebook page.  After all, Key West is where champ Diana Nyad landed last summer after a world record open-water swim from Havana across the Florida Straits.  "It accentuates what we do here: Having a good time doing silly things and drinking heavily afterward, or during," said Shultz, who owns The Porch bar, 2 Cents restaurant and is teaming up with Joe Walsh to reopen the old Waterfront Market as a brewery and restaurant.  Shultz, 38, a Minnesota native who moved to Key West in 1999, has completed the Seven Mile Bridge Run and various other races.  "We just walked it and it was exhausting," Shultz said of the Cow Key Channel Bridge.  Key West theatrics are expected -- costumed runners, relay teams and some grandeur.  Two "Grand Moobahs," one representing Key West and the other Stock Island, will cross the Cow Key Channel Bridge from their respective hometowns and meet in the center, Sloan said.  "'Cow Key Channel Girl' will greet the representatives from each side," Sloan said. "They'll have symbolic items to exchange, maybe local cuisine from each side."

Overview:

The Cow Key Channel Bridge Run started as a joke amongst friends after a more athletic one convinced the less athletic ones to partake in a 5K run after a night of drinking. They nearly died. A few weeks later he suggested they try the 7-mile bridge run and one said the only bridge they will ever run across is the Cow Key Channel. They joked about the idea for years, and finally it was time.
 
Mission: The Cow Key Bridge Run is just for fun. Many of us will never know the satisfaction of completing a 5K or crossing the 7-mile bridge on foot, but we see the satisfaction and accomplishments of those who do and figure, why not run across a bridge and get a t-shirt. A zero K appeals to a large sector of our population, and light heartedly mocks both our athletes and non-athletes. Many participants will probably graduate to larger bridges on their own. Maybe the Jewfish Creek Drawbridge, then Lingumvitae Channel, Maybe even the Bahia Honda Bridge. But an important part of the run is being inclusive to people of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels.
 
People clock their own time, run at their own pace, dress how they want. Some are doing relay teams, trophies for fastest and slowest. Bar at the end, but this is not being billed as a drinking event.
 
The bridge is about 300 feet long. Runners will gather near the Overseas Heritage Trail on the Key West side and finish on the Stock Island side. A water station will be located mid-bridge, and volunteers and signs will let walkers know that cars drive on roads and that if they walk in front of moving cars it will hurt really bad.
 
An award ceremony is planned at Hurricane Hole, but Hurricane Hole does not know that yet.
 
Participants are encouraged to do the Cow Key Triathalon which starts with a shower, then moves to a slow bike ride to the bridge, followed by the run.
 
Grand Moobahs wll open race to show solidarity between Key West and Stock Island. Race is free, t-shirts will be sold to cover any basic expenses, with proceeds going to an animal charity, hopefully animal farm
 
Race will be run completey on Overseas Heritage Trail, so as not to disrupt runners driving back from the 7-mile.
 
Facebook counts unreliable. Just a gathering of friends, and if it’s something people like, we will plan for next year.
 
Hosts, Marky Pierson of Zombie Bike Ride, David L. Sloan of Key Lime Festival and Sloan’s Ghost Hunt, Christ Shultz of TuTu Tuesday and Porch, Michael Marrero of Art Space & Marrero Studio