CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - "We see the top-seeded runners getting ready and a lot of people suiting up and stretching," Kent Frits, owner Art's Bar & Grill said Monday.
Frits has opened Art's for the past 15 years at 6 a.m. to welcome the crowds congregating on Colemon Blvd. and offer coffee and water to race goers.
"The mass of humanity of people you see go by here….it's just incredible," Frits said.
This year, more than 35,000 participants are signed up for the 2016 Cooper River Bridge Run, with officials expecting more to join.
In fact, a 2011 economic survey shows that a number of participants, the visitors coming to the area to race, offer a multi-million dollar boost to the local economy.
Across the bridge on King Street, Republic Garden & Lounge is prepping for two thousand people on Saturday.
"We'll be opening at 9 o'clock with our breakfast buffet," Ray Ferro General Manager, adding after 10 a.m. drink service will be available."It's one of our busiest days of the year."
That's business that Citadel professor Harry Davakos is trying to account for as part of this year's economic survey showing the Bridge Run's impact.
He tracks race participants' spending, narrowing down those who live more than 60 miles away and travel to Charleston just because of the Bridge Run.
Davakos said it's the "new money" he's tracking.
"Last time, we did that economic impact," Davakos said, 'people of that category, spent $18 million for a race that closes the bridge for three hours."
The online survey covers hotels, shopping, restaurant and more. Davakos said 2016 spending could easily exceed earlier years like 2011's $18 million because of a better economy and inflation. He also said it helps Charleston is so popular.
"I would like to say it is the Bridge Run that brings all the money but the reality is, it's a combination of how well the run is staged and also that Charleston is a destination city," Davakos said.
"It's a palpable bump," Ferro said of the anticipated crowds. "It's exposure to people who don't usually walk up and down this street. We're happy to showcase it off and hopefully get them to come back."