So you've spent the last 12 weeks training for the 35th annual Cooper River Bridge Run. You've downloaded the Rocky theme song to your iPod and gotten up at 5:45 every morning to get those 6.2 miles in before work, barely even sweating in your neon windbreaker and super-short track shorts. After all that hard work, the 10K race on March 31 should be a piece of cake, right?
Or maybe you walked the bridge with a friend one weekend when the weather was really nice, and aside from taking the stairs at work this past week and refusing that doughnut at the staff meeting, that's about all the training you've done. Have no fear: We've got the ultimate survival guide to this year's Bridge Run, including ways to beat the crowd, the heat, the stomach cramps, and the urge to vomit off the side of the bridge into the beautiful Charleston Harbor.
Own an alarm clock? Good, buy two more. You don't want to get a late start on Saturday morning as cars on the race route will be towed starting at 4 a.m., and the Cooper River Bridge closes in both directions at 7 a.m. Starting on Coleman Boulevard near Shem Creek and ending on Meeting Street between Wentworth and Calhoun, the race offers several options for getting to the starting line without having to navigate crowded alternative routes to and from Mt. Pleasant. A free shuttle for runners and walkers is the best way to get to Mt. Pleasant without worrying about a car. The shuttles will leave from Calhoun Street between 5-6:45 a.m. and drop participants behind the starting line on Coleman Boulevard. Be in line by 6 a.m. with your bib number to secure a seat. Post-race buses will leave from Calhoun Street from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
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If you were smart enough to preregister for a shuttle boat to Mt. Pleasant before the race, head to the IMAX dock on Concord Street with your race number, where boats will be hauling runners across the harbor at 6:30 a.m. for $8, so you can jet jacked up while you stare at that mountain you're about to master rising out of the water during the ride. A shuttle will meet you at the Mt. Pleasant dock for a quick trip over to the starting area. Return boats are also $8 and will run back downtown from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Whether you're an elite runner or just walking with friends, with temperatures forecasted in the upper 70s, water is a necessity. Though volunteers will be stationed throughout the race route handing out cups of H²0, the serious runner knows you can never be too prepared. Why not tote a fanny pack with all the essentials? Stock yours with a water bottle, protein bar, sunscreen, and band-aids for nipple chafing — hey, you never know. If crowds of other runners are cramping your stride, put your arms over your head and scream loudly that you're about to puke, and people should clear a path for you to make your way over the bridge in record time. Or not.
So the finish line is in sight, the cramps are just coming on, or maybe your sides are about to split open, but don't stop. Race officials urge runners to make their way quickly through the finish, moving out of the way of those close on their heels. Don't worry though, food and refreshments await you at Marion Square where the Finish Festival will take place from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. with vendors, souvenirs, and entertainment to celebrate your victory — even if it took you four hours to get there.
And for some pre- and post-Bridge Run activities, from bloody marys to readings to live music, check out our list below.