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      Bridge run weekend offers more than just a race

      MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- No doubt it is a test of endurance, heart and determination - a 5.3 mile run over the Cooper River and what equates to one of the only true inclines we have here in the Lowcountry.

      Yes, the 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run can be a bit intimidating, but when you're hitting that runner's wall at mile marker three, and you think you can't go on, just start thinking about all food, drink and fun you'll get to indulge in after you've crossed the finish line.

      According to livestrong.com, the average runner will burn anywhere between 600 and 800 calories during the course of the bridge run.

      That means your body needs to reload quickly. What's the best way to do that?

      How about frequenting one of the nearby watering holes that will be packed with runners, watchers, friends, family members and college students who decided to wake up early on a Saturday?

      Yes, the "after party" is just as much of a part of the Cooper River Bridge Run as the packet pickup and the people dressed in costumes.

      Thousands of hungry runners and walkers and more than a few early risers will be looking for an excuse to get their food and drink on.

      So why not start early? This year, bridge run organizers made it easy for the tens-of- thousands of people set to descend on the Holy City to choose their pre-race meal.

      The Taste of the Bridge Run will be held from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. tonight, and it's been dubbed not just another pasta dinner.

      With over 23 participating restaurants, everything from Halls Chophouse to Liberty tap room, diners will have their choice of pre-race grub from some of the finest eating establishments in the Lowcountry, without the hassle of making reservations or choosing a particular restaurant.

      The "Taste of the Bridge Run" will take place at the Gaillard Auditorium at 77 Calhoun St. and in Mount Pleasant's Harborside East at 28 Bridgeside Ln.

      The myriad of King Street and East Bay Street watering holes are also expected be packed as they are every year. {}

      So, if you want to suck down a few suds while watching the runners storm the downtown streets make sure you get their bright and early.

      Many of the bars, including Molly Darcy's, Light, Squeeze, Brick, Noisy Oyster and plenty more will be offering drink and food specials for both spectators and runners.

      The race itself will dump those 43,000 runners in Marion Square. According to the official bridge run website, the Finish Festival will feature entertainment, food, vendors, souvenirs, refreshments and lots of fun.

      American Idol alum Taylor Hicks will be camped out at both the starting line to sing the national anthem and at the finish line to re-energize tired runners.

      Other acts will be placed throughout the route to cheer the runners on.

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