If you ask Charleston locals which running event our city is known for, everyone will tell you the Cooper River Bridge Run. After all, the Bridge Run is the largest race in South Carolina and the third largest 10K in the United States.
I ran my first Bridge Run this year and loved it– I love how it brings visitors to Charleston and introduces many people to running and other road races. Tens of thousands of runners, including locals, lace up their shoes for the Bridge Run- and the next day, many retire their running shoes until it’s time to train for the next Bridge Run.
Don’t be one of those people. Since we’ve recovered from the Bridge Run, it’s time to think about summerraces- including the Race the Landing 5K series at Charles Towne Landing.
Located just off the Ashley River, Charles Towne Landing is where the original English settlers landed in 1670 and established the Carolina colony- long before the Cooper River Bridge was built. Charles Towne Landing is in West Ashley (Old Towne Road) and convenient to I-526 and I-26.
The 5Ks are held on Thursday night, and this summer’s race dates are May 7, May 14, June 4, June 11, and July 9. The kid’s fun run begins at 6:15 PM, with the 5K at 7 PM.
It’s no secret the Race the Landing 5K series is a highlight of my summer and one of my favorite races in Charleston- so here are my top reasons to run it.
Finisher’s bling. This year, Race the Landing offers a finisher’s medal at each race. You can run, walk, jog, hop, or skip- you just have to finish. You don’t have to finish quickly. I know one local runner who proclaims that he always runs for a cause- cause he likes medals. Who doesn’t love a fun medal?
Earned bling. Race the Landing has always offered the best age group awards with a great chance to win them. Top awards include overall, masters, and grand masters, and age groups are five years and go five deep (1st-5th place). Even if you don’t usually place in your age group, with five deep categories, you have a good chance. The awards range from fun animal toys to coins to swords.
Series awards. If you run four of the five races, you’re eligible for series awards as well. I encourage everyone to sign up for the series to save money. You can run five races for the price of four. Due to injury, I was only able to run three last year, but felt like I got my money’s worth signing up for the series. It’s cheaper than a night out and you get exercise.
Beautiful course. The 5K course runs through the park and offers some great scenery. It is not the fastest course in town (there’s a wooden bridge, it’s not completely flat, and it’s hot outside), but it is stroller and walker friendly. The course is completely paved, no trail or grass.
Race photography. A beautiful course means lots of spots for beautiful race pictures. Brian Fancher Photography, arguably the best sports photographer in Charleston, takes pictures on the course and at the awards ceremony. Even if it takes you an hour to complete the 5K, when you see Brian’s pictures, you’ll feel like you belong on the cover of Runner’s World.
Tech shirt. The race shirts for Race the Landing are tech tank tops- perfect for the Charleston heat. This year’s tank tops are blue and are included with the series entry fee. No white 100% cotton short-sleeved shirts here, these tanks are cool and great to wear on training runs or when running the 5K races.
After party. Rather than wandering around Marion Square looking for your friends like you did after the Bridge Run, you get to party in an air conditioned building where you can sit down, socialize, and listen to a band.
Tasty food. Forget typical race refreshments like bananas and bagels, Race the Landing’s food is a catered meal, and you will not leave hungry. The race provides vegetarian options as well as meat. I have a friend who eats gluten-free and she found plenty of options.
Free beer. Enough said. It’s craft beer, too. Your race entry includes one beer ticket, but you can purchase more. Or you can make friends with someone who doesn’t like beer and they will give you their ticket.
Great cause. Race the Landing benefits the Charles Towne Landing zoo. I live near Charles Towne Landing and never knew it had a zoo until I started running these races, so I wonder how many other residents know. Runners are encouraged to bring donations for the zoo animals, including peanut butter, fruit, and other foods and necessities.
Most of us aren’t setting PRs in the summer, but if you sign up for a summer series to stay motivated, you’ll have better race times in the Fall. Even if you prefer longer distances like half or full marathons, the 5K is the perfect distance for a tempo run. As the pictures show, lots of local marathoners and ultra runners run the series as well to work on speed.
Whether you Race the Landing as a 5K goal race, a workout, a casual run, your first 5K, or walk with friends or family, I hope you’ll consider joining us this summer at Charles Towne Landing!