Bridge runners react to American winning race for first time since 90s

Racers crossing the finish line of the Cooper River Bridge Run were surprised to learn an American won the race. (Thomas Lanahan / WCIV)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) – History was made during the 40th Annual Cooper River Bridge Run Saturday, something that hadn’t been seen since the early 1990s.

An American finished the race at No. 1 for the first time in 26 years when Shadrack Kipchirchir crossed the finish line. Kipchirchir finished with a time of 28 minutes, 12 seconds. The last American to do that was Jeff Cannada in 1991.

Not many people had heard the name of Kipchirchir, who became an American citizen in 2010. One thing was certain, though, Saturday -- many racers loved an American racer won.

Pat Beaver from Rock Hill was running in his fourth bridge run and was proud to hear an American won because of what it can mean for the sport with younger generations.

“I only hope that younger generations can feed off of this,” he said. “We can continue this. Running is awesome. I took to running late in my life…this is awesome. I’m proud to be an American right now.”

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Betsy Santos was running in her first ever Cooper River Bridge Run this year. She also at the time after the race didn’t know an American had won the race, but felt the same about what the win can do for American racers.

“I’m for anybody, no matter where they’re from. If they’re doing it, they’re crossing the finish line,” she said. “It is cool to see somebody from the U.S. actually, you know, cross a good race. This is a long-standing race, and I just think it’s wonderful. Hopefully that would encourage more people to see they can actually win and not, sort of be, in the middle of the pack.”

Those like Santos believe younger generations and new runners in America can use this year’s win as something to work for if they’re serious about running. It’s something many people who compete in the bridge run every year can strive for.

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