More than six tons of plastic water bottles from the Cooper River Bridge Run didn't end up in the landfill, thanks to more than 100 people who stood shivering in the cold to collect them.
The volunteers, working with the Charleston County Environmental Management Department, waved runners over to the blue barrels at the starting line in Mount Pleasant and the finish line in Marion Square.
Volunteers also collected more than four tons of cardboard from boxes used to distribute T-shirts and fruit, and from vendors at the Bridge Run expo before the race.
More volunteers participated than ever before, said Theresa Martin, environmental department marketing specialist. Nearly as much plastic was collected as last year, when hot weather had runners grabbing for water, and nearly twice as much cardboard collected.
"The people were just fantastic, going out of their way to find us," she said. The bulk of the recycling effort took place as more than 20,000 out-of-breath, exhausted, sometimes slightly out-of-it runners converged on the finish line.
"Total pandemonium," volunteer Kathy Schroer said describing the hoard of runners descending on the water station and then looking for someplace to put the empty bottle. "One of the neatest things is when one of them looks back over the shoulder and says, 'Thanks for being out here. Thanks for recycling.' "
"That's something I have noticed about South Carolinians," said volunteer Glyn Cowden, who worked at the starting line. "They're so aware of the community."
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744.