After a run that started at Schlitterbahn and continued across the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge, Norman Esquivel said he crossed the finish line in Port Isabel with a smile.
He was one of about 1,600 participants who pushed through the bridge’s incline and the Saturday morning humidity during the 4th annual Summer Longest Causeway Run and Fitness Walk. For Esquivel, a police officer for the Point Isabel Independent School District, the run was a milestone in a fitness journey he embarked on with his wife, Christina. He started at 310 pounds and has lost about 85 pounds in 18 months.
“Words can’t describe how I feel,” he said. “If I can do this, anyone can.”
For Christina Esquivel, a Laguna Vista police officer and personal trainer, the morning was about supporting her husband. She hopes they inspire more officers to take up running and fitness, ultimately to set an example for others in the community.
“We used to work this event in Port Isabel, and now three years later he’s doing the 10K,” she said.
Dora Escobar and her sister made an annual tradition of competing in the January causeway run with her sister, but they opted for the summer 10K when she missed out on the winter event. The humidity was all the more reason to stick to their goal of completing the route in less than one hour. She has a strategy for overcoming the incline on the bridge, too.
“It can be pretty challenging, but I just close my eyes and just keep going,” Escobar said. “Once you hit that peak and come down the incline, everything’s good from there.”
The Longest Causeway Runs offered cash prizes until last year, when the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce began using some of the proceeds for college scholarships, Executive Director Betty Wells said. She said when the initial announcement was made before a race, the runners cheered.
“(We decided) the better interest was in our future, and that’s the young people,” she said. Two $1,000 scholarships have been awarded to Port Isabel students.
The chamber’s next major event will be the 25th annual World’s Championship Shrimp Cookoff on Nov. 3. Last year’s cookoff was filmed and featured on the Travel Channel’s “Best in Food.”