Health and Wellness

Trigon Bay-Bridge Marathon
October 20, 2002

Here are photos from the first annual running on October 20, 2002 of the Trigon Bay Bridge Marathon, which traversed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The two aerial photos are from the official website at The first photo, looking north, shows the islands for the south tunnel. The fishing pier is on the left side of the southern island.

The second photo, also looking north, shows the islands for the north tunnel. The start line was near the bend of the bridge toward the top of the photo. The high rise bridge of the northern section is barely visible. When we arrived at the start south of the high rise bridge around 6 am, it was still dark.


The race used about 14 miles of bridge and its two tunnels, as well as another 12+ miles of streets in Virginia Beach, VA, ending at the Atlantic Ocean "beachfront" near the tourist hotels. Organizers said that this is the first bridge-and-tunnel marathon to be run.

This first time event gathered at least 1217 registrants (as seen by my number. I may have been one of the last to register by mail, only 1 week before the event. Others may have registered on site). A little more than 950 ran and finished the race.

As friends and family have heard, I started out in good shape, but developed IT-band hip pain at mile 7 (for information on Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB), see, which led to knee pains, and because of the pains I slowed considerably by about mile 15. I had never had that trouble before this race. As more experienced marathoners tell me, anything can happen in a marathon. Well, it did.

Some runners had warned that running on the bridge with its concrete (and in some portions a thin coating of asphalt) might be a problem, and I talked with a few after the race who felt their legs were beat up a little more than usual. Another factor may have been the fact that the headwind on the bridge was slightly from the side, perhaps loading one side of the body for 10 miles.

A short distance from the finish, I wasn't moving too fast    ...    but I finished --

I had trained and hoped for about 4:00 to 4:15. Because I was moving so slowly in the last 10 miles, I was not very tired, even after 26.2 miles. It was more like a half marathon with a long slow jog afterward.

The field was sparse by the time I came in. And others came in later (note the time in this next picture) --

Photos were taken of runners exiting each one of the two 1.4-mile tunnels (about 3% grade upward for 1/3 mile) -- the next shot is of runners showing how it looked. While the bridge sections are double spans of two lanes each (and the race reserved one double span), the tunnels are single with two lanes. The cones kept the traffic to one lane and away from the runners. Police escort kept traffic speeds to a minimum. North and south directions were alternated on the traffic lane. Some truckers honked at the runners; people in cars cheered as they went by on the adjacent bridge and in the tunnels -- Everyone had a great time in the tunnels.

Exhaust fumes were negligible -- at 7-9 on a Sunday October morning, the traffic is low. We found out that the tunnels are much warmer than outside (at this time of year), and people with extra clothing on stripped it off in the tunnels. It was great to run down into the tunnels -- no wind, and downhill. But it was refreshing to get out, and cool off in the wind again.

Along the Bridge itself, we all fought a headwind of 15mph (for about 10 miles total). I got really irritated at the wind by mile 12 or so (in a marathon, the mind does strange things), and was glad to see the shoreline approaching. But I have not heard of anyone complaining about being bored on the long stretches of the bridge sections. I certainly wasn't. To me it was interesting the whole way. There were helicopters in the air from the media for news coverage, and for safety. There were official boats in the water near the bridge (in case any of us fell in!).

The event required more than 700 volunteers. Some of them near the start (south of the high-rise bridge on the northern section of bridge) were stationed on the bridge before 4 am. Even though the race didn't start until 7:00, all the runners had to be bused to the start line on the northern section. Runners boarded buses at the beachfront between 4:00 and 4:50 am. There were about 30 buses. The trip to the start by the caravan of buses took about 1.3 hours; some runners talked, others snoozed. Just after the start, there was a striking sunrise -- the sun was absolutely crimson as it rose over the ocean horizon to the east; within a few minutes it disappeared into some clouds. The beauty of the sunrise was memorable in itself.

Here's a picture of one group of volunteers at the finish after the race was over. And another of volunteers giving a finisher his medal on a ribbon.


The race was "chipped" -- each runner had a microchip tied to a shoe. At the start and finish, passing over a mat activated the chip, which signaled the runner's ID, providing an accurate "chip time" no matter when the runner crossed the start line at the beginning. Here a volunteer is removing a chip in the closed-off "chute" area where runners pass through after crossing the finish line.

I really enjoyed the post-race fellowship. My wife treated me to a good long massage given by a local massage therapy school. And as well, she cheered me on at half a dozen spots along the way.

After the race, refreshments were served on the beachfront. I took a swim in the surf -- a great way to be refreshed.

The post-race party in the evening was a grand event.

All these and other photos can be seen at

Thanks to Dave McGillivray (Director of this event and the Boston Marathon) and all who helped put on a fantastic event!

I hope you all will come out and run in it next year!!