Cooper River Bridge Run hosts fruit frenzy

      Katie Batista started unpacking food at 4:30 a.m. (Natalie Caula/WCIV)

      By Natalie

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The smell of breakfast muffins overwhelmed Calhoun Street between King and Meeting streets while the sun still remained tucked under low clouds Saturday morning.

      Dozens of boxes, filled to the brim, displayed bagels, muffins and fruit. At around 4:30 a.m. crews began unloading the food that would feed tired and hungry participants of this year's Cooper River Bridge run.

      Volunteers unloaded the 16,000 muffins and 16,000 bagels, provided by Bi-Lo, to two food stations at Marion Square in downtown Charleston. 70,000 water bottles also sat piled for the runners and walkers.

      Katie Batista picked up one box after the other. She brushed her hair out of her face when she had a free second, which didn't come often.

      Batista manages the sponsorships for Bi-Lo. She helped set up and hand out the 25 palettes of apples, oranges and bananas also provided to the event's participants.

      "We kind of get sick of apples, bananas, and oranges," she joked. "But we're glad to do it."

      At around 8 a.m. Batista was just finishing unpacking boxes, while runners had not yet even left the starting line on the Mount Pleasant side. Once the big groups of racers made their way over, she knew it would be chaos.

      "In past years, people had to get on the palettes to throw out fruit to the crowd," she said. "We have so much fun."

      While fruit may be thrown towards the crowd, much of it is not thrown out. All opened food items are donated to the Lowcountry Food Bank, a non-profit organization that feeds the poor in 10 South Carolina coastal counties.

      "It's usually a couple palettes," Batista said.

      None of the food will go to waste. The breakfast items seemed to be appreciated by the racers, who following the race quickly grabbed handfuls of fruit after their trek across the bridge.