Prepping for the Bridge Run Expo

By Sonya

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Cooper River Bridge Run is the biggest race in the Lowcountry and one of the largest 10Ks in the Southeast.

Organizers have been planning the event all year and now their focus is on the two-day expo leading up to the race.

Unpacking, stacking, and organizing, that is what most vendors were doing at the North Charleston Convention Center on Wednesday in preparation for the race expo.

"From Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, all around the world they will come, anywhere from sports apparel to nutrition, newest greatest shoe, all those type things," said Scott Lewis, the assistant race director of the Bridge Run. "And they do very well. We have a lot of repeat vendors that come in every year."

There are more than 200 vendors with all kinds of products on display. There is even the Planters Peanut Van.

The expo is open to the public on Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the North Charleston Convention Center.

"There are over 250 parking spots, so we want people, participants to be able to move in and out, have a good time, go through the vendors, go through the booths, enjoy the expo," said Lewis.

There will also be a beer garden at the expo instead of the finish line.

More than 30,000 runners will be stopping by Thursday and Friday to pick up their bibs for the race, which will be a little different this year.

"We are heightening our security -- that is why this year we gave out clear bags. Anyone that comes with a bag that is not clear will be subject to search," said Benita Schlau. "We just want everyone to feel safe but the bridge run has always behind the scenes covered security issues. We are just going to take a few extra precautions."

Anyone that comes with a bag that is not clear or see-through will be subject to search. Those in elaborate or bulky costumes could also be searched.

Organizers had one more piece of advice for those running the 6.2 mile race: get there early because there is a new change this year before the race.

"The Coleman Boulevard section from Simmon Street right by Moultrie Plaza to Sea Island Shopping Center will be shut down at 4:30 a.m.," said Schlau. "In the past it was closed at 6:30 a.m., but that section will be closed because the corrals are and we line up people that far back. Either want to be dropped off at Sea Island Shopping Center if you are in over an hour or a walker. If you are in the front of the pack, you want to be dropped off like at Shem Creek and then you can walk to the start."

And the race will go on rain or shine.