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    First-Timer Wins Men's Division at Seven Mile Bridge Run

    Chad Newman

    by Chad Newman

    A Miami lifeguard won the men's overall division and posted the best time of 1,500 runners Saturday morning in a footrace over the longest of 43 bridges that help comprise the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. Daniel Martin, 27, ran the Seven Mile Bridge Run in 38 minutes and 59 seconds. Winning a fifth overall women's title was Marlene Persson, 40, a physical therapy technician from Deerfield Beach, Fla., with a time of 42:28. Second- and third-place finishers in men's were Chad Wilkinson of West Palm Beach, Fla., and Gary Gates of Melbourne Beach, Fla. Nancy Frey of Boca Raton, Fla., placed second in women's and Helena Bursa of Big Pine Key, Fla. was third. The race sold out 24 hours after applications became available in early February. Not competing was the men's overall winner for the past five of six years. Jason Bodnar, a Biltmore Lake, N.C., dentist who has a mild phobia of crossing bridges, and his wife Jennifer are expecting their first child shortly and remained home. The race was initiated in 1982 to commemorate the then completion of a new Seven Mile Bridge as well as 36 other spans that help comprise the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. The modern bridge parallels a bridge that Florida real estate pioneer Henry Flagler built to serve as a segment of the Overseas Railway. The railroad was completed in January 1912.