The Bridge Run Etiquette You Haven't Heard

E. Louise

We Bridge Run veterans think we know it all. All the 1,956 douchey things you can do during a race that irritates/fascinates the rest of the pack. But I heard a new one today, from the enlightening perspective of a pair of King Street shop gals and I promised these fine ladies I'd pass it along. Because oh, does it need passing along...


But first, the ones we know:


1. The gaggles of ladies walking the bridge who line up horizontally like they're on the same team for Red Rover, Red Rover. Little reminder: it's a race, not a morning seniors lap at the mall before you get coffee. No one can get by you and we're trying to get to the finish line. It's sort of why we registered. This really only applies though if you don't follow #2.


2. Thank you to Julian Smith and the other keen minds on the CRBR committee for keeping walkers at bay a little longer every year. Now, really, this isn't a bash-walkers post—I've been a walker before, several times actually, but the last thing I wanted was to start BEFORE 30,000 psychopath runners. Seriously, runners can be a deranged mess, a strange, intense group, and they're going to trip over you, curse, and after that, the only thing keeping us/them from tossing you into the Cooper is that it would screw with our time. Believe me, runners are no joke (see #3). We'd like to keep Charleston's famous sense of decorum, and we promise to turn into normal people again after the race, but that polite graciousness doesn't work so well when there's 20,000 roving, gossiping obstacles between runners and their finish line.


3. The runners with zero sense of humor. You can usually find these folks at the start line (they get their sense of humor back just over the top of the bridge—it's like runners' magic). They're nervous, edgy, and conversation is generally discouraged. But it's tight quarters, that start line. So much so that you can almost get tricked into feeling like you're family. Or cellmates forming an unbreakable bond. Almost. Take two years ago, when my sister reached the actual start line after the requisite 10 minutes of slow walking before the crowd spreads out. When she crossed the line, she looked at the guy who'd been next to her the whole time and said, "Whew. That wasn't so bad, was it? That race went by like that!" And she snaps her fingers. Crickets. He looks at her like she'd just told him she'd shot his dog. Lesson learned. Running, good. Talking? That could get you an ass kicking.


4. This is for the runners WITH a sense of humor—and it's not so much an etiquette thing, as it is a hilarious thing. Walkers who dress up are funny people. Runners who dress up are either very fit or not very smart. Because if you're wearing a banana costume and you lose steam around mile 3, you're not in a private hell like your struggling peers. Everyone's watching the giant yellow fruit gasp for air, that poor, wilting banana, and these are the people who get several thousand inquiries of "You okay, buddy?" (Again, that's only after the top of the bridge—before that, nobody gives a shit about you.) The first year I noticed this, I was running the Mt. P side leading up to the bridge, and these three young gals sprinted past me in short Catholic school skirts, knee highs, and low cut tank tops, their D cups spilling out. I'm sure I silently wished they'd fall off the bridge, but then forgot about them. Fast forward to Mile 4ish. I see them up ahead, sputtering and miserable and limping, sweat pouring down their faces, their mascara down to their chin. Naughty Vixens were replaced by Naught Going to Finish, Where's the F***ing EMT? My cleverly tucked-away A-cups and I calmly jogged past, glad that our Catholic school days ended 20 years ago.


But here's the one you haven't heard (coincidentally, this one involves boobs, too):


5. I was getting coffee this morning, and one of the baristas asked me if I had big plans for the weekend.  I replied, "Yep, I'm Bridge Running it. I've got family coming in and we're staying out at the beach and—hellooo? Why isn't anyone listening?" The answer was, she couldn't. She was too busy rolling her eyes to the other gal behind the counter. "What? What'd I say?" I asked. She goes, "It's a tough weekend for us." Her heavy sigh came next and then she spilled it: "Anytime there's a race here, every single person in the endless line for coffee hands us their sweaty, soaking-wet bills. Right in front of us, they pull them out of their bras, their jocks—ALL their nether-regions, I mean, God knows what those have touched—and they hand them to us like that's what we want. And we have to touch them with our bare hands." The other gal just stood their nodding. "It's gross. Nobody ever wants to work the races. Boob sweat, jock sweat—either they need plastic baggies or we need rubber gloves just to serve coffee." I promised to pass this along a) because they have a good point, ewww, and b) so they wouldn't notice the guilt washing over my face like sweat on a five-dollar bill.