, Port Arthur, Texas

November 5, 2012

Pleasure Island half marathon goes over bridge to success

Darragh Doiron
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — “Huge accomplishment.”

That’s how Alicia Wackenreuter summed up her Sunday morning’s work, running the Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon, over the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge.

Lisa Black called it a “get ‘r done” race.

The Beaumont women joined about 375 runners and walkers in the inaugural Half Marathon, 10K and 2 Miler that Richard and Amie James, of The Gusher fame, organized.

“It was a blast. People really enjoyed the bridge,” Amie James said after the majority of runners and crossed the finish line and donned medals over bright yellow/green race T-shirts.

Wackenreuter and Black were among many racers who had driven over the bridge weeks before just to get a feel how a 5,032-foot span rising 138 feet over the water would feel.

Many said that when they first drove to Pleasure Island, they couldn’t quite imagine the enormity of  the run, but after training, the bridge wasn’t such a stretch on the legs as they anticipated. Others said it was a still a challenge.

Charlie Foxworth of Beaumont had his head in the clouds.

“It’s an accomplishment. Miles on a calendar,” he said, recalling practice runs. “It was hard. You think you’re at the top and you’re not quite there.”

His company, Re/Max First, was a sponsor in this race, organized through the James’ Sports Society for American Health. Foxworth said he supports their efforts to fight childhood obesity.

When Foxworth took in the bridge-top view of water, parks and birds of Pleasure Island, he also considered the industry he observed, from the Port of Port Arthur and barges to refineries and bulk transport.

“You got to look out and see what powers the country,” he said. “It’s phenomenal.”

Coming down was even better than going up for runners loving that downward slope.

“Going down you got to stretch your legs out,” Eric Long of Beaumont said. “Personally, I like the view. The humidity was way worse than the bridge.”

Runners arrived at Logan Music Park before sunrise and caught birds soaring in the pink skies as the fog burned off. Long said the clouds looked like mountains. The cool morning warmed up quickly for athletes atop the bridge, then skies turned from sunny to gray as raindrops eventually fell on the final runners back through the finish line.

Did the effort match the anticipation? Several participants said they’d take on the bridge again.

For more information on the Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon or Exygon and Baptist Hospital Gusher Marathon, visit