Friday, April 2, 2010

Bridge Running

Last weekend, we made the long but much needed drive to Charleston for what I would like to become a reliable annual pilgrimage.

At the 33rd edition of the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston SC, I finished my 8th Bridge Run in a time of - well, a respectable time given my "relatively advanced age" (as my father tends to characterize it). At least, I think it was my 8th running - may have done more, but my records are a bit spotty.

Thinking back, I realized my first race was in 1992, the last year the race was held on the oldest of the three spans, the John P. Grace Memorial Bridge (which opened in 1929). I still remember the unnerving sensation of running on a bridge rocked by undulations as 7,000 runners made the crossing.

The next year, 1993, and the races following in '94 and '95, the race was held on the Silas N. Pearman Bridge, a luxurious three lanes in width. This testament to modern engineering had only been around since 1966.

College interrupted my running for a while, particularly since most of our crew races were held in the spring. I returned in 2001 and 2002 to post a PR of 43:07, and then again in 2007 for my first race on the "new" Cooper River bridge, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. I have to say, it took some getting used to, adjusting to the width and substance of the one-humped iteration this span represents. I think the race was more interesting on the old spans, to be honest, even though they are (were) steeper in grade than the Ravenel bridge and had two spans (read: uphill).

This picture and the one preceding are terrific shots showing all three spans as they co-existed before the demolition of the Pearman and Grace bridges in the fall of 2005. These photos were taken from Charleston Harbor by my friend Will Bean.

2010 was my first race in Charleston since Jack was born, but I wasn't too much worse for wear - faster than '07, at least. Just over 33,000 of my closest friends finished the course this year, and Simon Ndirangu of Kenya crossed the line to win while I was nearing the halfway point. Oh well - there's always next year!

NB: Older photo courtesy Wikipedia; modern shots by Will Bean.

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