Gov. Rick Snyder set a brisk pace Monday as he led thousands of walkers and runners across the Mackinac Bridge for one of Michigan's most popular Labor Day traditions.
The annual Mackinac Bridge walk took place under sunny skies Monday morning across the five-mile long span.
Snyder tells The Associated Press it's great to lead the crossing of the bridge linking Michigan's Lower and Upper peninsulas.
The Republican governor says he's hopeful Michigan's economy will keep improving between now and next year's walk.
The walk goes from St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula to Mackinaw City.
Labor Day is the one time pedestrians can use the bridge across the Straits of Mackinac where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge.
Members of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's family accompanied the Republican governor during the walk, among them brother George M. Romney and former sister-in-law Ronna Romney McDaniel. Pete Hoekstra, the Republican challenger to Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, also accompanied Snyder.
The walk came hours ahead of Vice President Joe Biden's fiery speech at a Labor Day rally in Detroit, 250 miles to the south.
Setting out under sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s, Snyder race-walked the bridge in 1 hour and 3 minutes -- a 12-minute-mile pace.
"The walk was a blast because you're with thousands of Michiganders," Snyder said after arriving in Mackinaw City, at the bridge's southern terminus.
Other walkers included Randall Ketchapaw, 33, of Wayland, who helped start the family tradition in 1991.
He has participated every year since, and is passing it on to the next generation of Ketchapaws.
My son here started when he was 3 months old," Ketchapaw said. "This is his sixth walk. Sixth stroll I should say."
Tony Crespo, 67, of Three Rivers, was with his wife and daughter at the walk's start in St. Ignace at 6:30 a.m. -- before the sun had risen.
"Today is a nice day. The year before last it was raining" said Crespo, who is retired from General Motors.
Not that the weather matters to him.
"Rain or not rain, I will come," he said.