CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - From the sideline, to the finish line, the Cooper River Bridge Run has offered a mix of fun, fans and first over its 38 years.
What makes people keep coming back?
"There's something so graceful about the elite runners, and how they move," Billy Berkes said. Berkes has run the race himself, but said before this year's race, he never had the chance to watch the elite runners as a spectator.
Running a 10K is the equivalent of running 6.213712 miles.
"It's like a running carnival is what I call it," George Horn said. Horn has taken it all in from the sidelines, for more than a dozen years, and he likes it that way. "No, I have not actually run. I did that enough in the military. Then I got too old."
Others say this is a sight that never gets old, and for runners, neither does the feeling of making it over the two-and-a-half mile long Ravenel Bridge.
"It's kind of the mountain of Charleston, like you're on the summit of Charleston. It's lovely," runner Sarah Beth Lee said. Lee came to the Lowcountry from her home in western North Carolina to run the race. It was her fifth time taking part.
Lee calls the view from the top of the 200-foot tall bridge amazing. "I always kind of have this feeling of being blessed when I'm up there."
"You know, it's crazy, the sheer numbers," Horn says. "For some reason they fascinate me when you see the people coming down."
Registration for the 2015 Cooper River Bridge Run was capped at 40,000. That allowed race officials to hand out 38,400 bibs to regular runners and another 1,600 for charities. The 2014 Bridge Run saw 31,864 finishers.
"You can rest assured that every last one of the 40,000 people running it this year love running, and when any kind of common passion pervades the city, it's beautiful," Berkes said.
The first Bridge Run was held on Sunday, April 2, 1978. That year, local church leaders complained about the event being scheduled on a Sunday morning, leading organizers to schedule the event on the first Saturday of April. The only time the Bridge Run does not fall on the first Saturday of April is when that Saturday is the day before Easter as it is this year.
The only tie finish in Bridge Run history happened on March 29, 1980, when both of the fastest runners came in at 31:26. The 1983 edition of the Bridge Run saw the 10K time fall under the 30-minute mark for the first time. It would take until 1992 for that time to fall below the 29-minute mark.
The race route originally took runners across the old Silas Pearman Bridge. The last race across that structure was in 2005, when 18,480 people took part. The following year, with the route over the new Arthur Ravenel Bridge, the number of runners jumped to 33,742. That was also the first year the number of women finishing the race exceeded the number of men.
The all time record for the race was 27:40, set in 2000 by James Koskei from Kenya.
The prize money for the top 10 finishers totals just more than $18,000.