Life in the Rio Grande Valley has changed dramatically within the last ten years. The pace is faster, the traffic more congested, and our lives split in many ways. There are also hundreds of events, and the choices continue to grow, but there is an event that stands out among the rest.
I am old enough to remember when the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway opened in 1974. At that time, it was simply the Queen Isabella Highway. “Memorial” came after the tragic collapse of the top portion of the causeway in September of 2001. The causeway was named in honor of Queen Isabella of Castile. The causeway replaced a previous one with the same name.
It is the second longest bridge in Texas, with a distance of 2.5 miles (4.0 km), and connects the island to the rest of Texas via Texas Park Road 100. The causeway is for vehicle traffic only, so when the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce bestows the opportunity for pedestrians to enjoy it, we must answer the call, locals and visitors alike. I think this is a must-do event for all Valley residents. At least once in our lifetime.
This past Saturday, September 17, 2022, marked my third participation and my husband’s fourth. It was our first summer run; a wonderful experience we shared with a couple of good friends. In Harlingen, we woke up at 4:30 a.m. that morning to be on time for the 7:00 a.m. start. When we got there, it was still dark and had started raining, damping my hopes of a good day. But alas! sunshine drove the rain away and welcomed us at the foot of the causeway. It was a magical time.
I’m grateful this event is open to those who just want to walk across and enjoy the magnificent views, or else I’d never be able to participate. There were young couples pushing strollers, young children, and grandparents. For the most part, the younger crowd ran across. I felt exhilarated and happy to be there with so many others. It is also a time for reflection on life, our health, and prayer for those who have perished at this site throughout the years.
This year, the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce introduced performance-style commemorative t-shirts. Mary, the chamber’s director, said 1,200 participants this summer run. The winter events bring over 4,000 people due to our Winter Texans.
This event depends on TexDot to close the causeway, and sometimes, due to construction, dates can’t be set in advance and the event is rescheduled. I highly recommend those interested in participating in future events follow the Port Isabel Chamber on Facebook and be ready for the next causeway run. There are two annual events; the Causeway Run and Fitness Walk and the Summer Causeway Run.
I know some friends who are afraid of heights and don’t participate in this event due to their phobia. I want to say that you don’t walk close to the edge and you don’t have to look down, either. Just focus on the view ahead and the sunshine by your side. When I got to the top and looked toward the island, I could not believe I had all that way to go! Looks like a very long way, but the company of friends and engaging conversation made it so easy that we kept walking to Louie’s Backyard, where the celebrations and awards ceremony was held. Louie’s Backyard is the finish line for runners. For those walking, the finish line is at the end of the causeway where you get on shuttle buses to Louie’s. At the finish line, we were also awarded a very nice medal; I felt so accomplished!
At Louie’s, they offered us fresh fruit courtesy of HEB, water, refreshments, and healthy snacks.
Kudos to the PI Chamber staff! The event was well organized and enjoyable all the way. I look forward to the next one!