It's that time of year again. Swarms of exercise addicts will descend upon the Lowcountry this weekend to demonstrate their running prowess in the 33rd Annual Cooper River Bridge Run. Although individuals can run across the waterway alone at any point of the year, nearly 40,000 will band together in a mass of humanity to complete the feat. Due in large part to the enormity of the event, there are several tips newcomers should know before jumping onto the roadway.
Registration forms contain one critical question that year after year inspires a significant amount of embellishment, and it has nothing to do with age or tee-shirt sizes. Participants are required to check one of five boxes concerning their prospective finish times. Although seemingly innocent, the question plays a critical aspect in race organization. Runners are given color-coded bibs that correspond with the times they expect to cross the finish line. Flags of the same color are placed strategically along Coleman Boulevard to let participants know the appropriate place to stand in line. As simple as this process sounds, it is disregarded every year. With the exception of elite, seated runners, general society does not pay attention to the finish times of the remaining 39,900 participants. There is no reason to bolster your time. Seriously. We don't care. Walkers, please refrain from lining up with the 49 minutes and under category. You will be bumped, hit, pushed and literally a moving obstacle for 6.2 miles. Calculating predicted time is easy, even if you haven't run a 10K with a stopwatch recently. If the treadmill says your running pace is 9 to 10 minutes, register to run between 49 to 60 minutes. If you don't think both of your feet with leave the ground at the same time, please register for walk or walk to run.
Beat the Traffic
The Bridge Run Expo is the place to pick-up registration packets, and a few last minute socks, water bottles, and shoes – although it is a good idea to break them in post-race. Peak attendance times run from mid-morning to Friday afternoon as visitors descend on the city by the thousands. Locals are encouraged to attend the expo on Thursday to avoid the parking lots that are sure to form on King and Meeting streets Friday. The Cooper Rive Bridge Run and Walk Expo will be held at the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium at 77 Calhoun Street on Thursday, March 25, from 12-8 p.m. and Friday, March 26, from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Don't Try to Leave at 7:30 in the morning
Although the vast majority of participants will not cross the start line until the top seated Kenyans have hit mile four, attempting to leave downtown without a full hour of allotted travel time can be a strategic nightmare. Unlike the majority of road races in the Lowcountry, rolling out of bed 30 minutes before race time is not even feasible for those who scoff at lengthy warm-ups and shirtless runners who put in an extra two miles before the start gun fires. Both lanes of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge will close at 7a.m., leaving I-526 the only vehicular route. Shuttles are the preferred means of transport, and will be leaving routinely from Calhoun Street, across from the Gaillard Auditorium until 6:30 a.m. A shuttle boat will leave from the Fountain Walk Dock at Concord Street.
Leave the Camera at Home
In the 21st Century, it seems that if an event is not documented on social media, it is as if it never occurred. The social phenomenon has created a new group of bridge runners that feel the need to capture every moment of their experience and convert it to digital form. We know the urge you may have to post that Twitpic of yourself at the top of the bridge for your followers, but please, hold back. Don't aggravate those around you by holding up traffic to pose for a picture in the middle of the course. In addition to having the opportunity to photograph the bridge 24 hours a day, the remaining 364 days a year, the organizational staff has planned ahead. Photos of every person crossing the finish line will be available after the race at islandphoto.com.
Completing a 10K while pushing a stroller of screaming ankle biters is impressive. As if chasing after rugrats isn't enough, some parents are able to keep up their running routine while toting several extra pounds. The bridge run, however, is not the event to show off superb parenting skills. Strollers are prohibited due to their ability to seriously inhibit or injure fellow runners. Babysitters are encouraged. Children up to age 13 are invited to participate in a special kids run in Hampton Park Friday, March 26, from 1-6 p.m. The run will feature a range of distances from 25 yards to a mile, dependent upon age. Registration is required.
One Banana Per Person
On top of bragging rights, crossing the finish line has added bonus: Free food. Gatorade, fruit, and bagel squares abound in Marion Square as part of the Finish Festival, providing much needed hydration and sustenance to weary finishers. For those who did not push themselves hard enough to feel that familiar nauseous, spinning sensation, it is a veritable cornucopia of healthy delights. But just like the cake at grade school birthday parties, everyone needs to get a slice. We're on to those of you with boxes containing an entire bunch of bananas, seven oranges, five muffins, six Red Bulls, and enough bagel slices to feed the Duggar family. So, please, don't be tacky and take only one banana.
Don't Be That Guy
Just as wearing the T-shirt of the band to their concert is reason for mocking, wearing the shirt of the race will inspire the label of That Guy. Those sporting poly-cotton blends, aspire for something more unique, and give those behind you something to think about for the next 10 kilometers.
Don't Eat The Doughnuts
Although it seems as oxymoronic as serving milkshakes to diabetic triathletes, it is not uncommon to see trays of doughnuts being passed out at the foot of the Arthur Ravenel on race day. The glazed, soft goodness may seem harmless, heck even a sensible idea — doughnuts equal carbs, right? But don't be fooled. Resist the urge, and bypass the doughnuts. With well over a mile to go, the fried batter is like a lead weight dropped to the pit of the stomach. Heartbreak and agony are sure to ensue.