Thursday, April 5, 2012

Race Report: Cooper River Bridge Run 10K

J and I got into Charleston around 6:45 on Friday night, and our awesome hosts greeted us with a Sam Adams and some delicious white wine, so the weekend got off to a pretty darn good start.  They live within walking distance of the "downtown" area of West Ashley, so we were able to walk to dinner.  We ate at Triangle, which was really fun - it was a beautiful night and we got a prime table inside but right next to a huge open window.  At dinner we strategized about the car situation (it's a point-to-point course finishing in downtown Charleston, so parking is an issue) and decided to drop one car off downtown after dinner.  By the time we got back it was close to 10:30 and definitely time for bed.

We got up at 5:30, were out the door by 6, and made it over to Mt. P and got parked with basically no hassle.  At this point, I was super impressed with the race peeps - packet pick up was painless (according to the friend who picked them up for us... thanks Jackie!), traffic was under control over to the start, and we got a parking spot within like a quarter of a mile of the start.

Things started to go downhill when we were on the way to our respective corrals and decide to stop for the porta potties.  I realize that with 43,000 registered runners, taking a bathroom break is not going to be a super quick endeavor.  But seriously... the lines were SO long and SO disorganized.  People were starting random lines, and there is one dude in Kentucky hat who is lucky that he didn't get punched.  The source of the problem was that the porta potty company dropped them off without making sure they were all open - at least 3 or 4 in our little cluster were still zip tied shut.  Not cool.  So anyway - it took us about 45 minutes to use the bathroom.  By that time, it was 5ish minutes from the start, so we hustled to our corrals thinking we were about to be racing. 

{Mt. P to King Street - let's GO!}


The race was scheduled to start at 8am.  The elites didn't actually start until 8:57.  Our wave crossed the start at 9:14.  The delay still hasn't been fully explained, but it seems to have been an issue with loading people onto the buses in downtown.  Apparently, at 7am, when the bridge was supposed to close, there were still hundreds, maybe thousands, of runners in line waiting to board buses downtown.  

So ok fine.  I get that they're not going to start the race when thousands of registered participants haven't made it to the start.  What left a bad taste in my mouth is that none of this was explained to those of us who were waiting in Mt. P.  In fact, it was exactly the opposite - the announcer kept telling us the race would start in 2 minutes, then 1 minute.... then 10 minutes later, we'd still be standing there with no explanation.  This went on FOR AN HOUR.  She also kept telling us to stay hydrated, but there was no water in the corrals.  Plus, by the time the race started I was starving.  I ate a banana and a Clif Bar at 6:00.  I thought we'd be done with the race by 9am, not still waiting to start.  On top of all of that, the temperature difference between 7am and 9am was close to 10 degrees - it was at least 75 and climbing by the time the race started.  And it gets even better... right before the REAL final countdown to race start, I swear I heard the announcer say that "they" (i.e. the race officials) had been very patient with "you people" (i.e. those of us waiting in the corrals).  WTH?! 

Once we actually got started, the race was pretty fun.  I've never run one that big, and it was cool to be in the company of so many people who love running too.  It did, however, make for some very slow first miles.  There were just SO many people, many of them who had clearly lied about their expected finish time in order to be seeded in a higher corral.  But we fought the crazy headwind and made it up the bridge without stopping, and once we got over the hump, I was pretty ready to pick it up.  J and I were running together, and he's never done more than 3 miles at a time, so I was curious how he was going to do.  He hung in there pretty good until about mile 4.5.  From there until the finish, he literally asked me how much farther every 15 seconds.  It was like a little kid in the back seat asking "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"  

{I call this "Pit Stains are Sexy." Pic by Island Photo.}

I think this picture pretty much sums it up - I'm all "Hey!  This is fun! Take my picture!" and poor J (behind me) is all "Hold up, my lungs seem to have stopped functioning."  He really did a good job though, and we finished in 55:04 and 55:05.  When I told my mom that I had officially beaten J, she reminded me that not everything is a competition.  I reminded her that this was a race, so it was indeed a competition, and then I'm sure she rolled her eyes at the phone.  

{Our splits - a few seconds off chip time}

So anyway - I don't think that we'll be doing this race again any time soon, but it was fun, once it got started.  And to be fair, I don't think a delay like that has ever happened before, but it's really just too big of a race for the venue/course.  In my opinion, they need to cap the field at about 35,000, and I think it would be much more enjoyable for everyone, including the race officials.  For me, I think I'd rather do a smaller race and really try to bust out a PR, because I know I can definitely do better than my time on Saturday.  I love the 10K distance though, and I'm excited to do another one sometime soon.


  1. Great pic! I am a little confused though...hasn't this race been happening for like a really long time?! How is it that all of a sudden they can't get their s*** together and start the race on time?! That is ridiculous! Did they increase the cap this year? Ah well, anyway, great job and I definitely need to take a lesson from you in writing a short, sweet, to the point race report! I tend to get (a lot) wordy! This is a good one!

    1. Yes! This was the 35th year for this race, so the sudden bus issue was definitely bizarre. Why not just do it exactly how you did it last year when you had no problems? And I'm glad you thought that was a short race recap... I felt like it was a novel!