The 30,000 participants and thousands of spectators celebrated the 37th Cooper River Bridge Run on March 28.
Charleston’s local economy gets a direct infusion of nearly $20 million. A 2011 economic impact study stated $18.3 million and that was several years ago in a much more tenuous market environment. To add to the impact the Bridge Run was also the first weekend of spring break and the beginning of Easter week.
Per Wikipedia, the Bridge Run is the only competition in South Carolina sanctioned by USA Track and Field as an elite event. Based on number of race finishers, the event is the third largest 10K and the fifth largest road race in the United States. Though for many Charlestonians, the Bridge Run is more than a race. It symbolizes our spirit and our hospitality.
Many areas of the Lowcountry are affected by the increase in tourists. Every type of restaurant from high end to fast food is busy, and hotels for many miles around are booked. The numbers from the 2011 impact study show hotels recognizing more than $4.2 million and restaurants experiencing over $10 million. The traffic is dotted with license plates from all over the country. There is a feeling in the air that is contagious.
On the Saturday of the Bridge Run at the start line in Mont Pleasant, the sound system was tested – loudly – at 5:20 a.m. It then came on in earnest with non-stop music at 6 a.m. From then until 11 o’clock in the morning, the traffic between Charleston and Mount Pleasant was non-existent, unless you were a shuttle bus or other service vehicle for the event. Shuttle busses transported the participants efficiently this year. The race began at 8 a.m. .
Locals gear up for the festivities inviting friends and family for the weekend. Before and after the race, shopping is abundant. The race may be over by 10 to 10:30 on Saturday morning, but the event lasts the weekend. Logistical complications may exist, but for most part this event is a great way to enjoy spring, Charleston, family, friends and creating memories. What started as a small 600 participant event in 1978 is now one of the hallmarks of Charleston’s tourism success. Our “Cooper River” Bridge Run is more than a race.