KNIGHTS KEY -- For the first time in its 31-year history, the annual 7 Mile Bridge Run was canceled this past Saturday.
It will not be rescheduled, according to race organizers.
Lightning and squally weather forced the cancelation just minutes after the 7:30 a.m. start Saturday on the west end of the bridge.
Race organizers must get approval from the City of Marathon and the Monroe County Commission, as well as secure a permit from the Florida Department of Transportation, to stage the race.
"We can't just snap our fingers and get permitting again," race co-director Ginger Sayer told the Free Press Monday. "We also must have insurance and get as many as 20 waivers to hold this event."
Sayer said it was a difficult decision to cancel the event, which draws 1,500 runners.
"I think we made the right call. We didn't want anything to happen to the runners or the 400 volunteers who help make this race possible," she said.
In 1992, driving wind and rain made conditions miserable for all involved, but it did not stop the race. But lightning in the immediate area Saturday morning made the decision a no-brainer, according to race official Mike Puto.
"As safety director, it's tough to make these kinds of decisions, but when you're surrounded by smart people -- race co-directors Ginger Sayer, Bobbi Baylis, the sheriff's and fire departments -- it makes the decision easier," said Puto in an interview with US 1 Radio News Director Bill Becker.
"We all got together and made the right decision. There are some upset people and we are sad, but the thing is, there is so much responsibility with one of these races. We have to be very careful. If someone was to run across the bridge and get nailed by lightning, or we have a slip and a fall in this lousy weather, there is a potential it may never happen [again]. We looked at all those things. If it was just sprinkles, we'd run it. But with the lightning, I just can't have that responsibility."
Sayer said the race committee will turn its attention to the April 13, 2013 race.
Staff writer Ron Cooke contributed to this report.