Even though the 36th Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk is seven weeks away, officials already are trying to forecast a likely sellout.
The Bridge Run appeared ready to crest the 30,000 mark as the price to register went from $40 to $45. As of 3 p.m. Friday, 29,621 had signed up for the 10K on April 6.
“I think we’ll hit 30,000 by midnight (Friday night),” said Assistant Race Director Tami Varn, adding that she thinks the race may hit its new, lower registration cap of 38,500 in the second week of March.
Based on trends from the past three years, that’s probably a conservative guess for the nation’s seventh largest race.
Last year, the Bridge Run set a record for selling out — three weeks before the race. It reached the regularly priced registration cap of 43,000 on March 8 for the March 31, 2012, event.
In 2011 and 2010, it sold out 10 days and three days before the event, respectively, but for smaller capacities.
The drastic drop in the cap to 38,500, not including 1,500 charity slots that cost $150 each, is due to the logistical fiasco at last year’s race.
The start was delayed for nearly an hour because of transportation delays and caused of domino effect of problems, including the ability to provide enough water on the relatively warm day.
Meanwhile, one segment of this year’s race is already sold out. Anyone who wants to sign up to run in the corrals for people expecting to finish the 10K between 45 and 60 minutes is out of luck.
It was booked by late January. Varn even added 2,000 slots to the corrals, bringing the total number of runners in that category to 14,000.
This year’s Bridge Run faces numerous challenges due to changes and demands for better organization.
The main focus of this year’s race will be on fine-tuning transportation to the race start.
To that end, more buses will be running from downtown Charleston, as well as from the Charleston Area Convention Center in North Charleston, Mount Pleasant Towne Center and Daniel Island, to Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant.
Because of construction at Gaillard Auditorium, the Bridge Run’s expo on April 4 and 5 will be held at the convention center for the first time.
Shuttles will run between the Charleston Visitor Center bus shelter and the convention center every 15 minutes during the expo hours.
Just because the logistics are the main focus doesn’t mean the Bridge Run isn’t continuing to build.
The Kids Run event is combining with Wonderfest, a children’s festival, for this year’s event on April 5 at Hampton Park.
Also, the race course will feature even more music than the past two years.
Race Director Julian Smith said there will be 23 bands and 10 radio stations along the route and that American Idol star Elise Testone will sing at the start of the race and kick off the musical entertainment at the post-race event in Marion Square.
Besides more music, the Bridge Run also will hold its first-ever “beer garden” on a closed-off Hutson Street, the block north of Marion Square, following the race.
For more go to www.bridgerun.com.