Shame on anybody who tries to shame you for not officially running - or walking - the bridge today.

But it would also be a shame if you didn't ever unofficially run or walk it.

More than 30,000 people will make, are making or have already made their way across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge -and beyond - this morning.

Maybe you lack the confidence required to take on that 37th annual Cooper River Bridge Run (or Walk) challenge.

Maybe you think you're physically, or emotionally, incapable of making it all the way from start to finish in a test that covers 10 kilometers.

Maybe you're right.

But you don't need to get all the way through that 6.21371-mile course to walk all the way to the pinnacle of the Ravenel Bridge.

And you don't have to wait for another day to run, walk, stroll or roll (on a bike) to that exhilarating vantage point.

You can even attain that giddy high today once the runners and walkers are over the bridge, probably by 11 this morning.

Indeed, the bridge's pedestrian/bike lane is open every day.

Well, every day when there's not ice falling from the bridge's cables or some other strange hazard that forces the local landmark's closure to the public.

You can pick your own time, set your own pace and avoid the potentially traumatizing, competitive pressures of being in a "race."

And once you reach the summit, you can take in a breathtaking view that wasn't available, at least on foot, until the Ravenel opened in July 2005.

Those masses of humanity crowding their way over the bridge this morning won't be, aren't or weren't in a position to stop and savor that magnificent vista.

Attitude elevation

The lavish penthouse on the top two floors of the Peoples Building on Broad Street reportedly has a grand, high-altitude - and high-cost - view of its own.

Yet you don't need the $19.5 million list price for that property, or an invitation to check it out, to enjoy the breathtaking perspective from the loftier Ravenel pedestrian/bike lane peak.

You don't even have to pay a Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk entry fee.

And judging from an informal survey conducted downtown Friday, some local residents who used to be official bridge runners and/or walkers gave up the event, which produced fewer than 1,000 finishers in its inaugural 1978 run, because it's gotten too crowded.

That's rarely if ever a problem on your unofficial Bridge Walk.

No, the Ravenel, like its crusty namesake (or anybody else), isn't perfect.

Yes, it's galling to know that our $700 million bridge needs expensive work to counter the menace of massive ice chunks crashing down on us.

OK, so driving the bridge can be unnerving due to the recklessly high speeds of some drivers.

And creeping along in traffic backups caused by accidents, or during no-wreck afternoon rush hours while trying to get to Mount Pleasant, also can be frustrating.

However, the folks you encounter in that pedestrian/bike lane are usually in a much better mood than the folks zooming hither and yon in those motor-vehicle lanes.

You could be, too.

Just remember not to walk or run in the section of that lane reserved for bikes.

And don't keep putting off the uplifting experience of unofficial Cooper River Bridge Walking - or unofficial Running.

Sure, there are other swell outdoor venues here for exercising your body while giving your brain a rest from the daily grind.

But none provides the sweeping panorama awaiting you atop the Ravenel.

Up, up and away

Warning: To maximize enlightening bridge-ascending reflection, cut your so-called smartphone off.

Better yet, leave that infernal, new-fangled gizmo behind.

Meanwhile, if you're not sure you can reach the pedestrian/bike lane zenith, that means you're also not sure you can't.

So give rising to a future occasion a bold bridge go at a time and on a date of your choosing.

You might even get there.

But if you don't, with apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson:

" 'Tis better to try to walk up to the peak of the Ravenel than never to have walked up it at all."

And 'tis even better to walk all the way across it.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.'