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DALLAS The 8th annual Trinity River Levee Run had something new to offer athletes on Saturday morning: The first public opportunity to dash across the new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, part of a day-long celebration.

More than 3,000 people entered the race, the biggest turnout in the event's eight-year history.

It's like a landmark of Dallas now, said Rochelle Carr. Since I was born and raised here, I wanted to be a part of that.

From the start of the Trinity River Levee Run, all eyes were focused on the spectacular arch ahead of the runners.

It's so beautiful, said Becki Veal. I've been watching it being constructed over a number of years.

Jason Morgan, an Air Force veteran injured in South America during a mission, led the celebration in his specially-designed wheelchair. It's exciting to be one of the first people to cross it, he said.

For most participants in the Trinity River Levee Run, it was their first time.

I just don't run any races.... I pick the fun ones, said Sarah Perez. You know the ones that you can remember, that are fun. This one is history-making, so it's just a really cool opportunity.

Inez Mosier made the trip from San Antonio to join her friends on the historic run. The beautiful opening of the bridge and the skyline... it didn't hurt at all. It was just a beautiful run, she said.

Others who call Dallas home made it a family affair. Stacy Elston brought his wife and kids.

Dallas has been great to us, so it's our way of giving back and being a part of Dallas, he said.

And these runners hope the bridge becomes more than a work of concrete and steel.

It just makes the city more beautiful, Perez said. I hope it brings more tourism; I hope it brings more people here.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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