‘i5k’ race leaves some on peninsula stranded

Charleston police blocked traffic at this and several other intersections downtown Thursday for a 5K race that was scheduled from 6 to 7 p.m.

It’s called the “i5k” race, but for the many motorists and residents unable to use some lower peninsula thoroughfares Thursday, it was the “I Can’t Move” race.

Dozens of people in the neighborhood between Vendue Range and The Battery found themselves stranded as the city shut down all routes in and out of the French Quarter for the runners.

“This is an absolute disaster,” said Dora Bell, who works in the area. Bell said she was going to miss her daughter’s first string concert because of the unannounced closure. “Whoever planned this thing didn’t give any consideration for the people who work down here.”

The race is sponsored by the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation. Set this year for 6-7 p.m., it began and ended at the Charleston Maritime Center.

Charleston police Capt. Chip Searson, who oversees the Traffic Division, said the event was the sixth in an annual series approved by the city’s Special Events Committee.

Residents and businesses are supposed to be notified, but visitors do arrive unaware, he said.

“We have to close roads for the safety of runners and walkers,” he said.

As race participants ran by hooting and hollering, frustrated motorists steamed over the inconvenience. The area reopened about 7 p.m., having been sealed off for about 50 minutes.

Charles Bumgardner, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., said he was stranded with family members who were in town for a wedding. With him was a woman who is eight months pregnant. “Given the amount of tourism in this city, it seemed asinine to have something like this and have it be unannounced,” he said.

Searson said police were not advised of any pregnant women needing help. He said police try to aid stranded motorists when possible, and said he helped a man who said he needed to get his car out from a neighborhood street to get to a birthday party. But when people fully occupy the road, that’s not possible, Searson said.

Local attorney Daniel Boles said closing the area off created a public safety hazard for people and disrupted the plans of countless people.

Boles said, “I can’t believe City Council would let them do something like this.”