Sticking with it: Causeway run, walk helps athletes keep New Year resolutions

PORT ISABEL — About 2,000 people set out in the chill of Saturday morning to take part in the 34th annual Longest Causeway Run & Fitness Walk. The event takes participants over the 2.4 mile Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge, offering a unique view.

“It’s exhilarating,” said Betty Wells, Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce president, amid the bustle of participants checking in at the community center ahead of the 8 a.m. start for the 10K run.

Wells said $2,000 in proceeds from the event will go toward a scholarship program for Port Isabel High School students. Registrants were about evenly split between the two groups, she said, though an increase of visiting Winter Texans boosted numbers participating in the 5K walk.

Among them was Candice Ayars — hometown Topeka, Kansas — who returned to walk the causeway for the third time.

“It’s a great fitness event, first of all, and the great camaraderie of the people you meet,” she said of what brought her back. “I’ve done other fitness walks, and it’s just not the same because the view (here) is beautiful.”

Sandy Ramos traveled from Harlingen with a group of friends who call themselves the Sole Sisters. The women have made the run a tradition since forming the group five years ago to encourage each other to live healthier lifestyles.

“We give each other support. It’s the beginning of the New Year,” Ramos said, a time to renew their resolutions.

Her friend Delma Chaney chimed in, “We always try to get someone to try it for the first time.”

Mercy Paz echoed their sentiment. The Brownsville teacher attended the event with her daughter and colleagues who got their start together in the school district’s wellness program.

“I started running a year ago, and I’ve been addicted to it,” said Paz, who encouraged her friends to walk the event for the first time. “Other people see you training for this, and they inspire others.”

Albino Rodriguez IV of Edcouch took the top male spot with a time of 37:29.1, and Alexa Aragon of Brownsville was the top female runner with a time of 40:11.4.