Pitchford, a high school sophomore from Marathon, Florida, finished first among 1,500 participants in exactly 39 minutes. Saturday's challenge was his third time racing over the iconic span that connects Marathon with the Lower Keys.
West Palm Beach, Florida, resident Dylan Siska, 41, and Collin Wainwright, 23, of Chester, Pennsylvania, completed the race in 39:27 and 39:43, respectively, to take second and third place in the men’s division.
Laura DiBella, 40, of Fernandina Beach, Florida, completed the course in 44:30 to win her second consecutive women’s division title. This was the fifth time she has won or placed in the race and her sixth time competing.
Sara Gomez, 38, from Boca Raton, Florida, posted a second-place time of 45:11. Miami resident Stephanie Reinhold, 33, placed third in her fifth race attempt with a time of 48:12.
Despite Saturday's tailwind, perhaps hastening some runners' times as they reached the “hump” in the middle of the bridge, the overall course record remains at 32:57, set in 1998 by Paul Marmaro.
Begun in 1982, the footrace over the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico marked the completion of a project to build 37 new Keys bridges to replace converted railroad bridges constructed in the early 1900s.
The run closed the span between the Middle and Lower Keys to vehicular traffic for just over two hours Saturday morning. 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 is one of the most popular running events in the southeastern United States, and the 1,500-runner field filled within minutes after online registration opened in February.