While Atlanta‘s Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10K in the country, Charleston‘s Cooper River Bridge Run is another well-known race. The event started in 1978 when a race was organized over the Cooper River Bridge, the former bridge that spanned the distance.
Today, it starts in Mount Pleasant and continues through Shem Creek and over the famous Arthur Ravenel Bridge, into downtown Charleston before finishing in Marion Square. It’s become known as one of the city’s biggest parties for runners who dress in costumes and the locals who celebrate the night before and after the race. I’ve now run the race twice and it’s become a tradition for many people.
1. The bridge is the shortest part. I don’t know what I expected from the course, but you run for a long time in Mount Pleasant before you even reach the base of the bridge. The bridge is also the highest incline of the entire race, which catches many people off guard in an otherwise flat route.
2. Be prepared for any weather. March is a tricky month in Charleston, so you never know if it will be cold, rainy or hot. I’ve experienced nearly every climate during the race, so it’s smart to wear something you don’t mind ditching if you get sweaty later on in the race.
3. Plan how you’re getting to the race. Most of the roads are closed pretty early on, so be sure to plan how you’ll be getting to the starting line and how you’ll get back afterward. There are buses that shuttle runners who pre-pay, as well as a ferry. If you’re lucky, you can get a friend to drop you off.
4. Take care of business beforehand. I was at the race almost two hours before I actually crossed the starting line and waited almost an hour to use the port-a-potty. There are so many people waiting to start, so make sure it’s all out of your system before you get there. There aren’t any places to stop on the bridge or again until you reach King Street.
5. Enjoy the atmosphere. Bands are set up along the route to keep you moving, so leave the headphones at home. Throughout Mount Pleasant and downtown, you’ll have locals from the neighborhoods cheering you on until the finish line. This probably isn’t going to be the race to set your personal record, so have fun.
6. Take advantage of the after-parties. Once you’ve passed the finish line and inhaled as much free bagels and bananas as possible, head over to one of the many post-Bridge Run parties sponsored by downtown bars and restaurants. You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy the drink specials that last all day.