Janet Cherobon-Bawcom had waited seven years to win the Cooper River Bridge Run. So another 58 minutes were not going to deter the diminutive runner with the huge smile.
“I just told myself, ‘You know what, it’s going to affect all 45,000 people in the race,’ ” said Cherobon-Bawcom, a native of ?Kenya who has been a U.S. citizen for two years. “It wasn’t just me, so I just tried to go with it.”
Cherobon-Bawcom dealt with a delay of nearly an hour at the start of the race in Mount Pleasant, cut through a warm breeze on the Arthur Ravenel Bridge and cruised across the finish line in downtown Charleston to win the women’s race in the 35th annual Bridge Run on Saturday.
Her winning time of 33 minutes and one second for the 10K race was well off the Bridge Run record, but that hardly mattered to her. This was the seventh straight year Cherobon-Bawcom had competed in the Bridge Run; she finished second the last two times.
“It’s so great, I cannot even believe it,” said the 33-year-old who lives in Rome, Ga., and collected $10,000 for her win. “It’s awesome.”
Men’s winner Solomon Deksisa, a 21-year-old Ethiopian, felt the same way about his victory, judging by his smile. He doesn’t speak English, but he sped away from a lead pack of about 10 runners at the four-mile mark, finishing in 29:37. He also won $10,000.
“It was a very tactical race,” said American Bobby Mack, a former North Carolina State All-American who was the early leader and finished sixth. “Nobody really wanted to go out to the lead and be the one to bear the wind. You were just waiting for that one person to make the first move, so the race really didn’t start until mile four.”
Rives Poe won the Marcus Newberry Award as the top local finisher in the Bridge Run, the third straight year she’s won the women’s award. Brian Johnson of Mount Pleasant won the men’s Newberry Award. Charleston’s Bob Schlau, 64, won the male senior grand master’s division in 45:11.
Alex DuPont won the men’s wheelchair division in 25:42, with Keira-Lyn Frie taking the women’s race.
A record 36,652 runners and walkers finished the Bridge Run, bettering the previous mark of 34,789 set last year. A total of 43,635 registered for the event, the second-highest number on record.
The elite runners were forced to endure a 58-minute delay at the start line in Mount Pleasant. The delay was caused by problems in getting runners moved by bus from Charleston to Mount Pleasant, race officials said.
The Ravenel Bridge, normally closed by 7 a.m. on race day, was not closed until 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, according to race director Julian Smith. The race, set to begin at 8 a.m., did not start until 8:58 a.m.
“We try to time our warm-ups for the start of the race,” said American runner Lindsey Sherf, who finished third among the women in 33:49. “But part of being successful in anything is being able to adapt with the punches. Having the energy of 42,000 people behind you helps keep you in good spirits.”
Although Deksisa’s winning time was the slowest since 1998 for elite men, Mack said he did not think the delay made a big difference. More of a factor was the heat and headwind, he said.
“It was not ideal, but everyone else was waiting, too,” said Mack, who will run in the Olympic Trials 10,000 meters this summer. “It didn’t influence the race too much. Maybe for the first half-mile your legs are stale, but then you get warmed up. It was a good race.”