We may have lied last week when we said that spring had finally arrived. It hadn’t. Now, we realize that spring couldn’t officially begin until the weekend of the Cooper River Bridge Run. So while Friday morning was cold and dreary, as soon as all those out-of-state plates started rolling into town, the sun came out and we were all itching to get outside. Our first stop, Wonderfest, the Bridge Run’s kid-centric offering.
If you are under the age of 10 and your parents didn’t bring you to Wonderfest, they probably don’t love you. Hampton Park was turned into a sea of bounce-castle bouncing, climbing-wall climbing, dance-contest dancing, glitter tattoo-getting children. While there were plenty of treats around — King of Pops, Carvel Ice Cream, and shaved ice — the focus of Wonderfest was clearly on exercise and not concessions. In addition to the one-mile Kids Run, the tykes could test their mettle at a military-style obstacle course. There was even a mechanical bull for them to try out. And judging by the three meltdowns we witnessed as parents tried to drag their kids out of the park, the event was a grand old time.
After Wonderfest, the time was ripe for more grown-up adventures, in our case, the Taste of the Bridge Run event at the Charleston Maritime Center. Those looking to fuel up before the race could pop by any of the event’s three locations — the others were Harborside East and the North Charleston Coliseum — to sample food from around the Lowcountry. Over at the Maritime Center, runners carbo-loaded on goodies from several downtown restaurants, including Taziki’s (pasta or cucumber salad), Brown’s Court Bakery (breads and sweets), and Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill (an interesting dish of noodles, pecans, and pork.) Our favorite plate came from Sticky Fingers BBQ; after all, given Taste’s emphasis on carbohydrates, we were happy to have the opportunity to eat a plate of pork and baked beans. And since we had no plans to run across the Ravenel Bridge the next morning, we loaded up on seconds.
Unlike the hordes of folks participating in the Bridge Run, we got to sleep in. We’re sure a Kenyan runner won the race and everyone had a lot of fun sweating through our streets, but we were more interested in the post-race brunch. If you’re a Charlestonian and not participating in the run, it’s an unsaid agreement that you’ll be day-drinking while watching the crowds. By 10 a.m., downtown is awash in neon running gear and people looking for a Bloody Mary. We started at the Alley on Upper King Street to avoid the crowds and found a rollicking party inside. The drinks were cheap, the band was playing, and tables were set up outside in the sun. We loved the fact that this was probably the only time in our lives that we were encouraged to show up to brunch in our workout gear.
After hanging out at the Alley for a spell, we headed south. Not surprisingly, King Street was packed. We tried stopping in Mellow Mushroom and Republic Reign (formerly Chai’s) for their brunch parties, but the lines were out the door. Our suggestion for the City of Charleston is to turn this day into a “Second Sunday” and shut the street down to let vendors offer outdoor seating. Everyone was looking for a mimosa or food to refuel, so we should make them more accessible. As for us, surrounded by all the runners, we began to get a little self-conscious that we weren’t wearing a number from the race, so we headed back home for a post-brunch nap.