12th annual Conquer the Bridge climbs VT Bridge in San Pedro on Labor Day

The annual Conquer the Bridge race over the Vincent Thomas Bridge is back.

The 5.3-mile trek over the San Pedro bridge, canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, will return for Labor Day, kicking off at 7 a.m. Monday, Sept. 6. The race is open to runners and walkers alike.

Friday, Sept. 3, is the last day to register online at Active.com/.

But participants can still sign up on the day of the race near the starting line on Harbor Boulevard near the bridge.

For those who register in advance, packets must be picked up at Road Runner Sports, 25359 Crenshaw Blvd., in Torrance (next to Mimi’s Restaurant), ahead of time this weekend. Hours for packet pickups are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, and Saturday, Sept. 4; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 5. The store requires masks.

Official merchandise, including T-shirts and tank tops, will be sold but are expected to be in limited supply.

It is recommended that participants park in the Ports O’ Call parking lot off Seventh Street and Harbor Boulevard. Free parking is plentiful at that location.

Masks are optional for the race. Staff will be wearing masks.

There are no backpacks, strollers, bicycles, skateboards or dogs allowed on the course. No extra items can be held by staff.

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New guidelines have eliminated serving fresh fruit at the course. Bottled water and multiple water stations will still be available throughout the course.

This is the 12th Conquer the Bridge event which in 2019, the last time it was held before the pandemic struck, drew 4,000 participants.

In recent years, the race was loosely wrapped into LA Fleet Week. It’s always been independent and predates Fleet Week by several years, but ever since the annual celebration of the U.S. Navy began at the Port of Los Angeles in 2016, service members have regularly participated in Conquer the Bridge.

But Labor Day weekend will pass without Fleet Week for the second straight year. It was set to take place this weekend, after the pandemic nixed it last year. But because of the highly transmissible delta variant causing cases to spike across Southern California and the ever-changing coronavirus health protocols in LA County, organizing Fleet Week became increasingly difficult.

So last month, organizers announced that Fleet Week, which traditionally draws about 250,000 people over its four-day run, would move to Memorial Day weekend next year.

Conquer the Bridge organizers, though, decided to move forward with their popular event.

“We’re 100% a go,” said race founder Michael-Patrick Hogue.

Monday’s race will close the bridge to motorists for several hours.

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