1. Cooper River Bridge Run, 2005

I was looking over the list of my articles, and I noticed that I was exactly one race short of a complete race history. I was missing my first official race: The 2005 Cooper River Bridge Run. So here I am, writing this article in October of 2007. Better late than never, I suppose.

How it All Began

2005 Bridge Run ShirtThe idea came from Robert, the Account Manager of Coburg’s Accounting Department. He runs five miles every morning before work, so when he found out that I was a runner as well he asked if I was doing the Bridge Run.

I had been in Charleston for maybe a year, and I had been at Coburg for maybe a month. I didn’t even know what “the Bridge Run” was. For me, running was just something that I did to drop weight. Back in high school, exercise just sort of happened. I rode my bicycle everywhere because I just didn’t have a car. Once I got a driver’s license, all that was over. I was spilling over my belt when I finally decided to exercise as a habit.

Trouble With My First Race

The story is pretty simple, really. I agreed to try out my first official race. I drove downtown on the rainy morning of the event, and walked over to the Visitor’s Center to line up for the buses which were taking people to the Starting Line. Unfortunately, things were extremely disorganized. There were no ropes, no officials, no police… just a giant crowd, hoping to get to the race. People formed lines in a general sense, but only those of us with manners were participating. The buses were filled by people who ignored the rough lines and boarded from the sidewalk. By the time I finally got onto a bus and was taken to the Start, the race had already started. If you look at my times above, you can see that I arrived over a half-hour after the gun went off.

Even worse, the Walkers had already been released. Imagine an army of fat people, walking two or even three abreast, who are insulted at the idea that someone would try to run at the Cooper River Bridge… um… Run. Running around and through them was a sever pain in the neck. At one point I had to stop entirely because the rain had left a big puddle in the road and none of the Walkers wanted to get their designer shoes wet. It was a pedestrian traffic jam. At the time I blamed it on the wackiness of the day, but I’ve since discovered that the Walkers are a problem every year. It’s not so bad if they start where they are supposed to, but many of them try to start as far forward as possible. Every year the running population has to navigate around these people, and they actually give us dirty looks when we flow around them.

Another problem is the baby strollers which plague the event. They are trying to crack down on that now, but there was no regulation in 2005. Again, these idiots start as far forward as possible, and try to push a baby through thousands of running adults. It’s absolutely insane. We often don’t even see the stroller until we’re right on top of it. A local 5K race has plenty of room for strollers, but at the Cooper River Bridge Run a baby among the runners is at risk.

For my first two Bridge Runs I had to dodge around the strollers, at great risk to the baby and to myself. It’s hard to understand if you’ve never been in an event like this, but a quick course change to avoid a stroller is an excellent way to fall down, crack your head on the pavement and then get trampled. But I suppose it’s okay if I get killed, as long as some soccer mom can show everyone that she has a cute baby. Fortunately, strollers were banned for the 2007 Bridge Run. There were still a few people out there trying to get their babies killed, but hopefully that will stop after another race or two.

In the end, I finished the race in just over an hour. It was the first time I had ever run over four miles, but I never stopped or walked unless the crowd forced me to. I checked out the festival for a while, ate some fruit, drank some water… and then I did my worn-out best to wander back to my car. From that point forward, I was hooked. I knew that I would be in the Bridge Run every year for as long as I live in the area, and I even set my sights on some of the smaller races.

So now I train up for specific events. It adds a little purpose to my daily run, and gives me a clear set of goals. The weight keeps dropping and the distance numbers keep climbing. It’s not a bad hobby at all.