Irv Batten has worn more hats in the local running community than anyone else, hands-down.
He ran for Baptist College of Charleston in the 1980s. He coached cross-country and track for Summerville High School in 1990s. He owned and operated the On the Run running store in the 2000s, until closing it last summer. He’s served in various officer roles, including president, in the Charleston Running Club. He co-founded the Catch the Leprechaun run and has performed race management at dozens more.
Throughout that 30-year span, he has been and still is, at the age of 51, one of the most competitive runners in the Lowcountry.
And now he has a new hat — as the first deputy director of the Cooper River Bridge Run.
After a national search for a deputy to work full time and year-round with longtime Director Julian Smith, he and the Bridge Run board decided to stay local and hire Batten.
“It was appealing to have someone local and who knew about running,” said Smith, who is 63, adding that Batten still has plenty to learn about the race.
“He hasn’t done a mega race with a lot of moving parts,” Smith said. “For the first year, he’ll be shadowing me and seeing how everything works.”
While Smith said he will remain “very involved” in the race, he needs “to get a lot off my plate.”
Bridge Run Board Chairman Harry Lesesne said the event has grown tremendously over the years and involves not only a national-level road race but also a major expo, kids run event, race director’s conference, pre-race dinners and, more recently, heightened security measures at all events.
“Not many people in community realize the complications of putting on this event,” Lesesne said. “We want this to continue to be a first-class race and to do that all the details have to be covered. It was more than one person could do.”
In the past, duties were parceled out to a half-dozen assistant race directors, who worked part-time. Over the years, the Bridge Run has shrunk those positions to three who now make $20,000 each. Batten will make $47,500, while Smith makes $78,000, according to Smith.
Batten said he is “super excited” about working for the Bridge Run, the third-largest 10K in the United States.
“It’s the ultimate. ... It’s world class,” Batten said. “I feel like everything I’ve been doing to this point has prepared me for this job. It’s a great opportunity.”
The 38th annual Bridge Run will be March 28.
Reach David Quick at 937-5516.