For competitive runners, bridge run is a matter of time

By John

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- The all-time Cooper River Bridge Run record is 27 minutes, 40 seconds. It is a mark set by Kenyan James Koskei back in 2000, a mark which really hasn't been challenged since.

"A tail-wind and cool temperatures are important."

That's according to American elite runner Bobby Mack.

"The first mile of the race is key," Mack says. "The last mile of the race is the most important."

Mack, who finished sixth overall a year ago, remembers the first mile of last year's race like it was yesterday.

"The Ethiopians took off at the one-mile mark, and I had a decision to make. Do I go with them, or do I stay back and run my own race? I decided to stay back."

It was a decision Mack would like to have back.

"I try to run that first mile in the 4 minute, 35 second range, nobody wants to be the leader, I prefer to stay back and draft, if you will."

Certainly a strategy to which NASCAR fans can relate.

Mack, a volunteer assistant distance coach at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, finished 19 seconds behind 2011 winner Lelisa Desisa.

"This year," Mack added, "if the leaders take off, I'm going with them. My goal is to run that final mile in the 4 minute, 20 second range. That's my strategy."

For Mount Pleasant runner Brian Johnson, who finished 27th overall in 2011, the strategy is a little bit different.

"Don't go out too fast -- for me that would be a suicide mission."

Now 36 years old, Johnson admits his window of opportunity is closing. He predicts an American could very well win this season -- in the women's division.

"Janet Cherobon is the one to watch," Johnson said. Cherobon finished second a year ago. She is a Kenyan by birth, but now an American citizen.

Former WCIV-TV meteorologist Neville Miller is also someone who believes an American will win this race once again. Miller now working in Columbia, Missouri will return this weekend to give "The Bridge" another shot.

"I'm a competitor, I want to win, but I'm realistic too, " Miller said. "There are a lot of talented American distance runners out there, Bobby Mack is one of them.".

Mack recently captured the United States Cross Country Championships in St. Louis in February. He is certainly peaking at the right time, and with Kenyan Simon Ndirangu pulling out of{}this year's race due to injury, Mack's chances of making a run to the title just got a little bit better.

"My best 10K time is 28 minutes, 11 seconds, but that was on a track,"{}admits Mack.

Jeff Cannada{}was the last American winner back in 1991-- Bobby Mack could be the next.

It's just a matter of time.