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Bridge run tests limits
Eight-year-old Trenton Raulerson eagerly shed his coat, hopped over a guard rail and urged his mother, "Hurry up!"

Melissa Raulerson joined her son and began to stretch in preparation for Saturday's Sidney Lanier Bridge Run, sponsored by Southeast Georgia Health System.

"I started doing (5-kilometer races) a few years ago, and they just joined in," Melissa Raulerson said of her family.

The family was part of an estimated 2,300 people - runners and walkers - who took the bridge challenge Saturday, now in its 11th year.

Families and individuals with fitness on their minds attended the event that offered more than the opportunity to race across Georgia's highest bridge. Live music, vendors and camaraderie with people of similar interests attracted runners from across the state and other parts of the nation.

In a crowd favorite, firefighters in full fire fighting gear from across the Southeast started the event with a run over the bridge.

Noah Ullman, a first-year firefighter with the Brunswick Fire Department, said he, along with other Brunswick firefighters, decided to participate to show their support for cancer survivors and cancer research.

It was tough, but worth it, Ullman said.

"It was definitely tough to get a natural stride," Ullman said, pointing to the heavy clothing is designed to protect firefighters from flames that he wore during the race.

They were joined by other fire departments, including the Highview Fire Department from Louisville, Ky., which has a former Glynn County Fire Department member on its staff.

Rising 480 feet above the Brunswick River, the run is certified by the U.S. Track and Field Association as the toughest 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run in the state.

The race that starts on the north ramp of the bridge is uphill until it barely levels out and goes downhill, only to turn around to end at the start.

But first-time participant Susan Rule wasn't going to let the bridge intimidate her.

"We drive over the bridge and we think it's a gorgeous bridge. We were like, 'Wouldn't that be fun?" said Rule of St. Marys, as she watched her husband, Allen, take off in the crowd of runners.

Though Rule didn't race over the bridge and chose to join in the walking portion of the day, she sees value in the event that encourages fitness.

"I just think if more of us could do this, we'd have a healthy society," Rule said.

GiGi Griffis of Brunswick agrees.

"I'm just really grateful to be healthy enough to be here," Griffis said, noting that she ran in support of breast cancer survivors. Breast cancer has affected two of her four sisters.

And, of course, the view of Glynn County's marshlands and the Brunswick River doesn't hurt.

"The beauty of the bridge, the sights on both sides, the fresh air ... I just love it," Griffis said.

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at nwilley@thebrunswick, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

* Winning runner finishes in under 18 minutes, Sports, 8A

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