Cooper River Bridge Run (48:24)

On Saturday, I ran the Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston’s largest race, South Carolina’s largest race, and the third largest 10K in the United States. It was the 40th anniversary of the run and my third year running it (you can read about 2015 and 2016).

The Cooper River Bridge represents so much in my city. The bridge represents unity- as it unites Charleston and Mt. Pleasant. After the Emanuel AME shootings, thousands of people linked hands across the bridge to show support for the victims and their families. Each year, this race inspires many to “get over it” and conquer a fear of running or walking across that bridge.

When you finish the Bridge Run, you see a large banner that says “Congratulations – You Got Over It”. Maybe the accomplishment of running or walking and “getting over” this bridge can help everyone face scary things in other parts of life.



I registered for the Cooper River Bridge Run back in November to avoid a price increase. After I got injured, I heavily debated on transferring my entry and volunteering instead.

About a week before, I was up to 5 miles in a run and decided to run, but not race. Anyone with the coveted blue (seeded) or white (competitive) bib knows there’s a difference in “racing” and “running a race”. My finish time would be far from competitive, but the Bridge Run is one of the best weekends of the year in Charleston, and I’d regret missing it.


The Cooper River Bridge pedestrian path is open for running year-round, but I hadn’t run it since I injured my knee in November. I knew I’d have to run it again one day, and I guess race day is as good as any.

How do you set goals after taking six weeks off due to peroneal tendonitis? Conservatively.

Goal Met?
Finish without any *new* injuries Yes
Eat a donut at Mile 4 No
Hop on the sag wagon for a ride to the finish, and yell “So long suckers!” to my friends on the course Thankfully, no.

Most of all, I wanted to leave the Bridge Run with happy memories, regardless of the finish time.


I hardly got any sleep the night before the race. I was nervous because it would be my longest run post-injury. I woke up that morning and questioned why I was driving all the way to Mt. Pleasant to run in a race I wasn’t prepared for, but I’d already marked that I was “Going” on the Facebook event, so there was no backing out now.


I drove over to Mt. Pleasant at 5:15 AM and parked near the start line on Ben Sawyer Blvd. I went into Harris Teeter to meet up with some friends, use the indoor bathrooms, and noticed the store had water and snacks out for us. I took the crackers and ate them before the run. Most runners preach “nothing new on race day”, but I had nothing to lose, so why not?


Around 7 AM, I walked up to the sub-45 corral. It was relatively empty when I arrived since most runners were warming up. You know, those serious runners who train for these races- the kind of runner I used to be. I talked to all my friends, found everyone’s goals, and positioned myself in the back with the other members of #TeamJanky whose training was de-railed due to illness, injury, or life. We’d get over it together.

The gun went off at 8 AM. Here goes nothing.

The Race

I wanted to run comfortably for the first mile, and I did. I ran by quite a few friends and ran with some of them for a little while, just trying to encourage everyone I knew. The best thing about the seeded, competitive, and 45-50 corrals is that many runners know each other and train and race together. I was excited to be with friends on one of my favorite race courses, and the people of Mt. Pleasant embraced us for that first mile and a half along Coleman Blvd.

Soon, it was time to run up the bridge. I was a bit nervous but having so many other runners on the course helped me. Those hours of injured cross training on the Arc Trainer prepared my legs to run up that bridge without slowing. Not that I was running very fast at any point during the race, but I digress…

I didn’t look at my Garmin and focused on running by effort, saying hi to people, and thanking volunteers. I thanked the National Guard members on the bridge. Thank you military- we appreciate your military-ing! I also cheered for Adam Gorlitsky, walking in his exoskeleton to raise money for I GOT LEGS. All runners go through injuries and setbacks, and Adam is a great motivator and inspirational not to let them get us down.


I hit the top of the bridge and knew I had about a mile to go before Mile 4 and the donut stop. Since I wasn’t gunning for a fast time or PR, I decided in advance that I’d take a Krispy Kreme donut. MILE 4 DID NOT HAVE DONUTS. Spectators had chocolate chip cookies and Oreos so I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie. My inner fat kid had to look at the cookie to make sure it had enough chocolate chips, and I was disappointed that it wasn’t a soft baked.

The man told me I was the first runner to grab a cookie.

While the Bridge Run starts on Coleman Blvd, and the incline is in the second and third miles, the race starts on Meeting Street. By now, most people have exhausted their endurance getting over the bridge, but still have two miles to go. The pain train was starting to derail for some runners, but we could all ride the struggle bus together. Thankfully, my peroneal tendon was cooperating! 


I decided to rabbit hunt and push the pace in the last mile and a half. People were cheering and I heard someone yell Tiny Terror. Wearing a headband with your nickname helps.

Soon we ran under the scaffold on King Street, the most misleading part of this race. The scaffold *looks* like a finish line. I don’t care how many times you run the Bridge Run and know where the finish line is, when you run under the scaffold, you think you’re done because you want to be done. Nope-  photographers are taking your picture, and you still have 1/2 mile to go.

After turning onto Wentworth Street, my watch beeped 6 miles. I saw a sign that said “You run better than the government”. With no training, I *could* surely run better than they do their jobs. Best of all, I could finish the race without any injuries I didn’t start the race with.

I imagined it was my last 400m repeat at track practice, finishing in 48:24

Splits: 8:04, 8:06, 8:12, 7:19, 7:28, 7:27, 7:02 (Last .27)

Post Race

After the race, I grabbed a beautiful 40th anniversary participation medal. This medal is better than many half marathon medals I have- and hooray for participation!

I also got a Cinnabon, water, and Chex Mix- the refreshments and swag were awesome! Mercedes Benz Vans gave out reusable bags and sunglasses with their logo on them. You can bet that’s the only thing this professional writer will ever have with a Mercedes logo. I found a lot of friends and training partners. We took some pictures before I headed over to the Charleston Running Club tent to refuel. I also met up with Travis from ARTC and we took a traditional moose picture.



As always, some runners had a great day, and some runners had a bad day- that’s how races go. This was my slowest 10K since 2013, and while I’m not proud of my time, I am proud of my effort and getting back out there. After taking 6 weeks off, not training, and only running a little in the two weeks before the race, many would have opted to sit this race out. I’m thankful I didn’t. My tendonitis didn’t bother me during the race, and I kept moving/walking afterwards which seemed to keep the pain and discomfort away.

I’m proud of everyone who got over it and ran the Bridge Run. No matter how your run went, you earned that medal and you’re a winner. DO NOT beat yourself up. The Cooper River Bridge beats our legs up bad enough- heck, this whole sport of distance running beats us up, from our bodies to our egos.

Here’s to next year, Cooper River Bridge Run!


This entry was posted in 10Ks, Charleston, Charleston Running, Charleston Running Club, Cooper River Bridge Run, Downtown, Mt Pleasant, Race Preview, Race Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Cooper River Bridge Run (48:24)

  1. Nicole says:

    Love this! I’ve always wanted to run the Cooper River Bridge Run!

  2. Hollie says:

    I’m glad to hear you are beginning your comeback. It’s great to hear your ankle is beginning to feel a lot better as well.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Hollie! Yeah, the discomfort is fairly miminal now. I haven’t tried to do any workouts on it, but with a few races on the calendar, I think those will just be my workouts for now.

  3. Angela says:

    Its so good to read a race report from you again, WELL DONE and you should be proud that is an amazing time for a comeback race… jeesh I wish I could do that time in a 10k!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, I’ve gotten that a lot. Nothing against a 48:24, because I know that is an above average time and I’m proud of getting out there and the effort- and quite surprised by the time. But I do hope to be about 5 minutes faster next year (and think if I hadn’t had the injuries, I could have been in the 43:xx range this year based on my Charleston Half Marathon time). But alas, the best laid plans…

  4. kookyrunner says:

    Thanks for the awesome race recap! I’ve heard about this race from my running coach and she loves it!

  5. supereli23 says:

    I’m glad your ankle handled the race well and you didn’t have to be sag wagged back to the start 🙂 Also, huge bummer about the lack of donuts…if you’re going to fun run, you need a donut gosh dangit!

  6. Congrats on the comeback trail. Glad to see you’re healing up. Still can’t believe I lived there for 12 years and never did the Bridge Run. Will have to get back down there one year to mark it off my bucket list.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      You should. It’s a great race to do at least once. The path is open to run all the time, so you can run it any time now, but it is a neat experience to run over the bridge with so many others.

  7. Elizabeth C. says:

    I totally LOL’ed at this: “I’d already marked that I was “Going” on the Facebook.” Ha! Best. Reason. Ever. to actually attend something! Nice job getting over it and not getting any new injuries. This sounds like such a fun event and I’d love to run it one year. It really seems like you are on the other side of your injury and ready for a strong comeback over the next few months. Also, from what you said about the runner you “used to be” – you are still that person. You are still someone who tries their hardest, follows a plan and is smart about training. And that’s really admirable!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It really is a fun race. Based on your times you would need to submit them to be up at the front but would definitely be in the competitive corral or maybe the seeded corral depending on how strict they’ll be about the seeds.

      Facebook pressure is real. When I made “Going” my RSVP, it got so many “likes” because people knew I was on the fence about it. Plus I’d already posted my bib number on facebook and it would be silly to have to come back and say yeah, I decided to not mess with that, sleep in, and just do an easy run from home…

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