Well I did it!! I ran my first 10K race today. The Cooper River Bridge Run is the 3rd largest 10K in country and they capped the race at 60,000.
60,000 people!!! – I couldn’t fathom what that would possibly look like. Lucky for you, I’ve got some pictures that show some of the masses.
Two days before the race, they had packet pick-up and a running expo at the Charleston Convention Center. I was super impressed with how smooth and easy it was to pick up my packet. They had bib numbers sorted in groups of 5,000 and you walked to your section, gave you number, and got your bib. The next station had prepacked swag bags and volunteers checking t-shirts size marked on the bib number. It took less than 5 minutes to get everything and then I got to explore the expo. There were cool running vendors and lots of samples (nuts, sports drinks, etc.).
All the swag came in cute bags.
Among the typical coupons, t-shirt, and bib number, there was a screen printed towel and flash drive with race day information. With 60,000 participants I guess they had the money to spend on branding. They even have an app for race day results.
To manage traffic and parking, there were 4 locations in surrounding areas that had shuttle buses running to the start line and leaving the finish line. The website advised arriving between 5-6 to get in line for the shuttles. I got in line right before 6 and didn’t load a bus until closer to 8 (the first heat’s start time). I knew this waiting would be the worst. There were SO many people in line. This line wrapped around the entire convention center.
I posted on Instagram:
Assuming I don’t freeze from hypothermia from waiting in this 2+ hr shuttle line, I’ll be running my first 10K today! #bridgerun2013
I had purple fingers because I knew I didn’t want to carry gloves or a jacket during the run. I also packed some almonds and water for the 2 hour wait. People complained about the line and how things hadn’t improved from previous years. I tuned them out with music and blog reading while I waited in line. Iphone for the win! No negativity was going to rain on my parade!
Once the buses did arrive, the loading stations were efficient and well organized. Bottom line, they just needed more buses. I would guess that it took at least another hour or two after I loaded to get everyone from this location to the start line.
People made a mad dash for the port-o-potties. The lines were crazy long, but I found a short one. Then I made a mad dash (to warm up) and find my heat. The letter groups were clearly marked which made for easy navigating.
I ended up in the G group instead of F. It didn’t really make a difference. I tried to meet up with girls from work, but they were in the J group and with the crowds there was no way I was going to find them. We just texted well wishes and our results.
Finally at the start line! My heat didn’t start until 8:30. They had great music playing in between the announcer pumping up the crowd. There were live local bands along the course that weren’t as good.
And we’re off!
The first mile and a half was mostly on flat roads until we made it to the bridge. Here’s the first signs of the climb ahead.
At this point, I was grateful for all the squats and lunges I regularly do. My quads kicked in to get me up the mile and a half incline.
What annoyed me most was all the walkers everywhere. People would just abruptly stop running and there was no natural flow of slower people to the outside. If I look behind me to make sure I’m not going to spit on someone, then the least walkers could do is check if there is a runner right behind them before they start walking. I ended up weaving through people for the majority of the race. I received a few elbow hits from other runners and gave a few unintentionally too. It was that crowded. The downhill was the best part! Those miles flew by (and yet people still chose to walk that part).
For the last two miles downtown, the road started narrowing as there were less and less driving lanes. I felt like I was in a cattle chute.
The finish line was right around the corner. Time to sprint!
Finished my first 10K race!!
The after party in Marion Square was crazy too. Imagine one small city block devoted to the post-race festivities. It wasn’t big enough for all the people. There were vendors giving free stuff away and an incredible amount of food for participants. People were going nuts over all the free stuff (bar-b-que sauce, nuts, yogurt drinks, aquafina water).
This is one side of the food table for finishers. There were 8 lengths of tables like this.
Now for results: My Run Keeper app says I ran 6.25 miles in 58:21 while official results say I ran 6.2 in 58:41. Either way, I ran it in under an hour which was my goal. My mile splits fit the terrain too. Mile 1 9:18, 2&3 uphill, 4 downhill, 5 stopped for water, 6 and 7 finished strong!
I loved the race and even though the crowds were frustrating at times, they are what make the race atmosphere. I found different runners to help pace me, fed off of other’s trying hard, and got excited when I passed up people (especially guys). I’m ready to do another 10K (not on a bridge) and see how I can improve my time. This run also makes me want to find a half marathon to run in the coming year. The day was fabulous and the weather was gorgeous. I’m proud of another goal conquered and item marked off my Charleston bucket list. I hope your Saturday was filled with joy like mine!