Passport to Race: Cooper River Bridge Run

by thekimrunner
cooper bridge

Your Name: Kim Jessup

Name of Race: Cooper River Bridge Run

Place: Charleston, SC

Tourist or Local? tourist

Distance: 10K

Date you raced: 4-4-09

Number of times you’ve run this race: 5

Number of runners in race: 31,430 finishers

Describe/rate the:

–   Start The start is incredible.  Over 30,000 runners hanging around in Mt. Pleasant excited to run. It’s pretty much crazy with runners everywhere and most streets closed. The Bridge closes at 7:00, so they shuttle people over from downtown Charleston in school buses and boats.  We were blessed with gorgeous weather this year, temps in the 50’s and no rain.

–   Food/drink on course 6 water stops, no food until the finish.  Once upon a time, on the descent of the Bridge, there were people passing out Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Not a good idea.

–   Port-a-potties lots… of course with 30,000 people you still had to wait in line

–   Course (Hilly? Flat?) This race is flat for the first 3 miles, then you hit the 4% grade up the Ravenel Bridge from mile 3-4 before descending back into flat downtown Charleston .

–   Finish Excellent!  You run into downtown with spectators everywhere cheering you on.  After finishing, you walk about a block to the finish festival area.  The Finish line festival is fantastic.  Major sponsor Bi-Lo grocery brings out tractor trailer trucks full of fruit, muffins, and bagels.  This year featured Smart Water. Several local restaurants had booths set up selling food.  There was music and other entertainment.  The race finishes in the heart of historic downtown Charleston, and all the restaurants, shops, and bars are open for runners.

–   Staff This is a very well organized and executed event.  The staff and volunteers are amazing!

–   Other aspects? This race is great!  It is a lot of fun, but probably not the best race if you are gunning for a great race time. It is very crowded, and even with corralled starts, you inevitably end up behind a group of walkers in the sub-hour group.  The Bridge is quite steep and gets the best of a lot of people.  This year the race organizers did enforce the no baby jogger policy, which was nice.  This is a race that the Cities of Charleston and Mt. Pleasant really embrace.  It does bring in a lot of money for their communities, but it brings a lot of hassle too. Fortunately Charleston is one of the friendliest and best mannered cities in America. Their hospitality shines throughout the weekend

Recommended pre-race restaurant: You can’t go wrong with pizza and a beer from Mellow Mushroom on King Street in downtown.

Recommended post-race restaurant: Charleston is full of fabulous eats.  My husband and I were there for our anniversary and enjoyed a fabulous dinner experience at Tristan.

Immediately post race, I would advise the Mellow Mushroom again.

We spent the day at one of our favorite bars, Burns Alley, which is rumored to have great food as well.

Local tourist attractions (running or non-running related):

Charleston is a beautiful historic southern city with tons of options for fun things to do.  A carriage ride through one of the historic districts is always nice.

You could also take the boat to visit Ft. Sumter or the U.S.S Yorktown at Patriot’s Point.

The South Carolina Aquarium is really neat.

If you haven’t had enough activity, there is a fabulous bike/pedestrian path over the bridge.  Charleston County has done an exceptional job making Charleston a bike friendly town.  You can pretty much ride your bike anywhere.

There are also several beaches close by.  My personal favorite is Folly Beach.  It’s a kind of eclectic surf beach with small bars and restaurants, lots of old cottages.  You can drive to the north end, park, and walk out to see the Morris Island Lighthouse.

The Ravenel Bridge itself is pretty interesting.

Personal anecdotes: This race is just a lot of fun for me. When I first started running, it was one of the first races I ran, definitely the first big race.  Throughout the years I have run it with friends and my bridge running experiences have cemented some of my strongest friendships.  My husband and I ran the Burn the Bridges Run held by the Charleston Running Club shortly before the old bridges were torn down.  We were married on Bridge Run day in 2008.  When I sent out Save the Dates, I actually had several phone calls asking, “You know that’s Cooper River Bridge Run?”

Other things to know about this race:  There were supposed to be trucks checking gear at the start for transport to the finish.  I saw a lot of people running with bags, so I don’t know if there was a glitch in this process.  Hotels are expensive in Charleston and Mt. Pleasant.  This is a big weekend at the peak of Charleston  flower season.  It’s worth it.  We stayed in Mt. Pleasant and walked to the start. It was a $10 cab ride downtown.

A neat site with info on how to navigate around Charleston

For more info on running in Charleston: Charleston Running Club

Great place to buy running gear: Try Sports




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