24th Reindeer Run kicks off big holiday weekend

Forget snowflakes. Charleston and Henry Siegling pulled a portable bubble-making machine in a wagon during the walk portion of the 22nd annual Reindeer Run, much to the delight of children.

Is it just me or do the holidays just seem out of whack this year?

A late Thanksgiving that happened on the same day as Hanukkah. Black Friday bled into Thanksgiving. And the 24th annual Reindeer Run, which typically kicks off the first big weekend of the holiday season in Charleston, is a week into the month.

The event, held on the first Saturday of December every year and on Dec. 1 last year, is the latest it can possibly be and one more sign of a mercifully shorter holiday season.

In the 25 years I’ve been running and writing in Charleston, the Reindeer Run is the most festive holiday-themed charity 5K in the area. It does so even while maintaining itself as a competitive race, thanks to generous prize money. Race records are a blistering 14:09 for males and 16:27 for females — both set by Kenyans.

The majority of runners and walkers, however, are less serious and don Christmas outfits or at least red and green colors. They basically make it a float-less, pedestrian parade of 3.1 miles complete with cute kids and decorated dogs. For hundreds of people, it is part of their Charleston holiday tradition.

All of the trappings of the Reindeer Run — costume contests, free beer at Southend Brewery, music — will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, starting and ending on East Bay Street in front of Southend Brewery.

Unfortunately for the Reindeer Run, it lost one of its two title sponsors shortly after Piggly Wiggly announced its sale of more than two dozen stores earlier this year. Half-Moon Outfitters remains at the run’s sole title sponsor.

Race director Cameron Widman says the loss will hurt the Charitable Society of Charleston’s efforts to raise money this year. Eighty percent of the proceeds go to the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital and 20 percent to the Charitable Society of Charleston’s endowment that provides grants and donations to local nonprofits that benefit children and elderly residents of the Lowcountry.

Since the beginning of the race in 1990, the Reindeer Run has donated $575,000 to MUSC. In 2012, the Charitable Society of Charleston donated $72,000 to the children’s hospital.

As of last Friday, registrations were at 1,500 and on track with last year’s record-breaking 2,137 finishers, which made the Reindeer Run the 10th largest run in South Carolina. With a warmer, relatively dry forecast for Saturday, Widman hopes to catapult over the Kiawah Island Half Marathon and Race for the Cure to be the third largest race in the Charleston area this year.

In-person registration and packet pick-up will be 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Friday at the Omar Shrine Temple in Mount Pleasant and 7-8 a.m. Saturday on East Bay Street near Southend Brewery.

Word to the wise: the fee goes from $40 (children are $30) on Friday to $50 on Saturday. The higher fee, Widman adds, is an effort to make up for the loss of the Piggly Wiggly sponsorship funds.


On Sunday, Coastal Expeditions is holding a rare birding trip in the north end of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge featuring a fairly rare bird for the East Coast, the long-billed curlew.

The trip, which takes place aboard Coastal Expeditions’ ferry boat, Caretta, will be 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., departing from the McClellanville Public Boat Landing.

For those unfamiliar with the long-billed curlew, it is relatively large shorebird with a large and distinctive sickle-shaped beak that first gained fame in the 19th century. The bird is featured in John James Audubon’s print that includes the 1820s skyline of Charleston and Castle Pinckney. Audubon rarely featured a recognizable civilization in his famed images of birds.

Yet the trip is not only a quest for the curlew.

On a similar trip held in October, birders counted nearly 50 species, including 600 marbled godwits, saltmarsh and seaside sparrows, and two peregrine falcons.

Coastal Expeditions owner Chris Crolley says the bounty of birds is due largely to the fact that the trip is in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Class I Wilderness Area, the north end of Cape Romain. Throughout the year, 293 species are found in wildlife refuge, which is a critical habitat along the Atlantic flyway.

Crolley got special permission from Fish and Wildlife to hold the trip, the second of which was originally scheduled in late November but was canceled due to high winds.

The trip is limited to 40 people and the cost is $45 per person.


Reach David Quick at 937-5516.