Traffic alert: Run will shut 7 Mile Bridge. What to know if you’re driving in the Keys

Like the old Snickers commercial asked, “Not going anywhere for a while?” You might be asking yourself that same thing if you approach either end of the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys Saturday morning.

If you have plans to cross the famous span between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., leave earlier or later. The bridge will be closed to car traffic in both directions during that window for the Seven Mile Bridge Run. The annual event has drawn swarms of runners to the Keys for the past 42 years.

Even after the race ends and as the more than 1,000 runners leave the bridge, expect heavy delays for an hour or two once the span is reopened for traffic.

Other things to know about the event:

Run history

New bridge: The race began in May 1982 to celebrate the opening of the then-new Seven Mile Bridge. There was no race in 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Benefit: Proceeds from $100-per-runner registration fees benefit local schools and youth groups. Since the beginning, the event has been organized by the Marathon Runners Club, which says more than $500,000 has been raised.

Contestants in the Seven Mile Bridge Run near Marathon, Fla., cool down courtesy of a series of showers Saturday, April 5, 2014.
Contestants in the Seven Mile Bridge Run near Marathon, Fla., cool down courtesy of a series of showers Saturday, April 5, 2014.

What time is the Seven Mile Bridge Run?

Event start and bridge closure: If you live or are staying on either side of the bridge, plan accordingly Saturday morning. The race starts at 6:45 a.m. Saturday, April 1, but the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will block traffic from both ends starting at 6 a.m.

Traffic restrictions

Pro tip: Don’t expect to cross the bridge for at least three hours Saturday morning. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says the bridge will be shut down in both directions. Drivers should plan to be across the bridge by 6 a.m. “to avoid being stuck on one side or the other.” the sheriff’ office says. The bridge will reopen to traffic at 9 a.m., but there could be slower going than usual, so expect delays

What is the route?

Direction and distance: This year, runners will start on the west side of the bridge and finish on the east side. (Despite what it feels like, the Keys don’t run north to south, but rather east to west) The actual distance of the race is 6.8 miles. Runners will have about 90 minutes to complete the race.

Runners: Buses will pick up those whose pace does not allow them to finish in time. There will be several water stations along the route.

Parking and shuttles for runners

Schedule: Limited parking for runners only will be available to the west side of the bridge at 1 Knights Key Blvd. between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. Runners wanting to hop a shuttle to the starting line must be seated on the bus no later than 5:40 a.m., the organizers say. The last bus to the starting line will leave at 5:45 a.m.

Boaters watch runners participating in the 20th Annual Seven Mile Bridge Run Saturday, April 21, 2001, race across the longest of 42 bridges that help comprise the Florida Keys’ Overseas Highway. The event, which attracted 1,500 participants, began in 1982 to help herald the completion of a then-new Seven Mile Bridge. The race across the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico is regarded by several running magazines as one of the top running events in America.

Where can you watch?

Cheering section and restaurant view: Organizers say they’ll be a cheering section on the Old Seven Mile Bridge on the Marathon side of the span, but there is no parking in the area. You must get there on foot or by bike. The organizers also recommend watching the race from the Sunset Grill, a popular restaurant on the east-base of the bridge.

How to register

Information: Too late for this year. The race is so popular worldwide that online registration is sold out within minutes of opening. Organizers can only accept 1,500 entries. Registration for the 2023 run started at 6 a.m. Jan. 26 for Monroe County residents and the same time Jan. 31 for everyone else.

For 2024 race: For information on registering for the 2024 run, go to