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CORPUS CHRISTI — If you thought you saw Superman darting along the bay Saturday, he was hot on the heels of a hippie in a tie-dyed T-shirt and clutching the baton Batman handed him. Los Superhombres, six costumed high school students from San Antonio, were one of 1,705 registered teams in the 33rd Annual Beach to Bay Relay Marathon. Saturday's 26.2-mile race summoned more than 10,000 seasoned and wannabe runners to pass batons from Padre Balli to Cole parks, where thousands of spectators eyeballed the finish. Contenders and supporters struggled to find teammates in dense crowds but some team themes, like Los Superhombres' costumes, helped. A different bunch bleached their hair. "So we could show off, stick out and find each other," said Chris Amaya, 17, captain of the Lonestar Elite team, also from San Antonio. The towheaded teammates toted water and bananas about 11 a.m. through clusters of thousands of people crammed onto the grassy hill by Cole Park's amphitheater. Lines of sweaty runners snaked through the crowd, waiting for refreshments and food. Many swayed to the blasting rhythm of local band Flashback. Outside the cloak of live music and barbecue smoke, a loudspeaker squawked team names of finishers as the less-seasoned runners sprinted their best, well past the highly sought three-hour race timestamp. At three hours and 22 minutes, 11-year-old Skylar Anderson earned applause as the first youngster to finish. It was the second time for him to run the final leg for his Dawson Elementary Running Club team. "It feels good to win first place again," said Skylar, who will be too old for the team next year. It was the 10th time Dawson won the youth division. "We've been training hard all year." Some runners saw problems throughout the day. Some teams lost their third-leg runners, who missed the last shuttle leaving Flour Bluff at 8:45 a.m.. "It really messed us up," said Michael Kozlowski, who pressed past the finish for Incarnate Word Academy Angels. "We had to draft a guy from another team to be able to finish." The Laguna Madre turnaround on the third leg wasn't shut down as traffic organizers planned, so many runners dodged vehicles until a water station volunteer directed traffic. Andrew Sable, a Padre Island resident for nine years, would like to have dodged traffic. He said he was stuck for an hour in an early morning mess at Whitecap Boulevard near his home. "Cars were backed up as far as you could see," he said. Few spectators abided by the parking plan for the after-race rally at Cole Park. Del Mar neighborhood streets across from the park were packed with vehicles despite barricades and "no parking" signs put up by police. Shuttle service from two churches and the coliseum parking lots was stagnant. By noon, police radioed dispatchers for towing permits to remove vehicles blocking traffic along Ocean Drive. Medical staff reported few troubles because cooler weather -- which ranged from the mid 60s to low 80s during the run -- helped avoid runner exhaustion. One teen girl was taken to the hospital because of dehydration, said Pamela Hulme, in charge of the six medical stations. One runner went down with a leg problem on the causeway, but no twisted ankles or skinned knees were reported to medics, she said. "It's been one of the best races from our perspective," Hulme said. "The cooler weather gave us smooth sailing." Contact Mike Baird at 886-3774 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Photographer Rachel Denny Clow contributed to this article.
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