By Sandra Ecklundsecklund@abcnews4.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- While disciplined athletes may not have a problem turning down race-route distractions, casual runners might want to leave their wallets behind.My God, that Bloody Mary looks goodI ran the Cooper River Bridge Run once. I did it for the experience, and because some out-of-town friends were staying at my house while in town for the race and I ended up succumbing to peer pressure.I knew it would be hard, especially since the only running I do is back and forth around my house with a string and a Maine Coon cat trailing behind. What I didn't anticipate was how hard it would be to turn down tempting treats along the way.This year is no different. The race starts at 8 a.m. Saturday and businesses along the race route are taking full advantage of their location.Starting Line: Coleman BoulevardThankfully, the first mile of the run is pretty much temptation free. Jersey Mike's and Bacco won't be open yet, and the Circle K will be operating 'business as usual.' They only have one bathroom though, so make sure you answer nature's call before you line up.Around the mile-and-a-half mark there will be a water station just past McGrath Darby Blvd. and live music just as runners reach the Ravenel Bridge.Get over it: The Ravenel BridgeObviously while running the bridge you will be free of distractions, unless you count the breathtaking views of the harbor and the USS Yorktown. Be mindful of dedicated runners if you decide to slow down and snap a few pics. No one likes running into tourists when you're trying to beat your best time. Speaking of beats, another live band will be set up on the bridge to cheer you on.Once runners exit the Ravenel and head towards Meeting, they will have another chance to dance. The next live music stage will be right beside the first water station downtown.
Safe Zone: Meeting StreetThere's no real reason to slow down on Meeting. Nothing will be open that early in the day.There's also zero temptation as runners make a right from Meeting onto Woolfe, unless you count a water station. Once you hit the next stretch, however, it's a whole other story.Road to Ruin: King StreetThis is where things get dicey for casual runners and walkers. You hit the five mile mark back there on Meeting, you're huffing, puffing, and all of a sudden you start smelling delicious foods and seeing signs for heavenly sounding drinks.Welcome to King Street. If the window displays in Upper King's furniture and fashion stores don't slow you down, the thought of brunch, bloody marys and mimosas just might.
This is where I had the worst time staying on track. My friends had run ahead with promises to catch up at Marion Square. As I was plodding along alone, those little cups of water just weren't cutting it. Only the inability to provide payment kept me on my way past the many revelers who were partaking in Bridge Run festivities.Many of the restaurants are operating as usual, but there are a few who are doing their best to tempt you off the beaten path.O'Malley's Bar and Grille will open at 9 a.m. and will have $4 mimosas.Charleston Beer Works will also open at 9 a.m. and will have $8 pitchers of Bud Light.The winner for most devious temptation, however, goes to the general manager of O-Ku, Kimball Brienza. Normally O-Ku opens at 5 p.m. on Saturdays but for the Bridge Run they're opening at 10:30 a.m. and will offer $6 Saki Bombs, $6 Siracha Bloody Marys and $10 Bento Boxes. Thankfully most runners will be done with the race by the time his plan goes into action. If your will power has gotten you this far, congratulations! You'll pass the American Theatre and be rewarded with a slight reprieve from temptation. The next few businesses decided to give you and their staff a break, not opening until 11 a.m. or operating as usual.Then there's Hall's Chophouse. While their bar usually opens at 4 p.m., they've decided to not only open early (10:30 a.m.), but to also serve a special lunch menu to lure race participants on their way to the finish line. Across the street, Juanita Greenberg's Nacho Royale will also open early (9 a.m.).If you have a sweet tooth, Cupcake will be on your right, icing their cakes with discounts for runners, and the Black Bean Co. will wrap up their usual energy boosts available at 9 a.m.Virginia's on King is serving a special brunch menu at 8 a.m. with bottomless mimosas for only $10.99. They suggest you make a reservation though, because they anticipate being full. As you cross Calhoun, you'll come face to face with Moe's but their staff won't be yelling welcome until 11 a.m. Further down King, Boone's Bar will open an hour early and offer up beer and bloody mary specials.The staff at Kickin' Chicken will be up bright and early to get their party started at 8 a.m. Their brunch menu includes chicken and waffles, chicken biscuits and gravy, $3 mimosas and $4 bloody marys. Their food truck will be set up around back as well with corn hole boards for extra after-race fun.Once you cross George Street, you might see some of your fellow runners on the patio of Mellow Mushroom enjoying $3 bloody marys and mimosas. They open at 9 a.m. as does Nick's BBQ. King Street Grille will open at 8 a.m. and have plenty of drink specials. Finally runners take a left onto Wentworth only to take another left onto Meeting St. This is the tail end of the race so try to ignore the great smells coming out of Jestine's Kitchen. They don't open until 11 a.m. anyway.
The Finish Line: You Made It!Continue down Meeting across the finish line and make your way to Marion Square.
Seriously, make your way to Marion Square. Race organizers are really determined to make sure you don't stop and linger near the finish line. Marion Square is where the real post-race fun begins anyway. Organizers promise "entertainment, vendors, food, souvenirs, refreshments and lots of fun" including the biggest mobile grill in the U.S.Go ahead and give in to the brats or beers calling your name. Once the race is over, turn around back up the race route and grab those refreshing drinks you passed by. You've earned it.