Well, they most certainly don’t call it the Lowcountry for nothin’! Coastal South Carolina is flat. I’m talking the if you drop a ball, chances are it ain’t rolling anywhere type of flat. That’s how vertically challenged the terrain is here.
Thus, one has to be somewhat creative when seeking out any sort of elevation gains round these parts. They call the hills here “bridges” with the most famous of them in the greater Charleston area being the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. This beauty of a bridge stretches over the Cooper River and links up downtown Charleston with neighboring Mount Pleasant. It is a very popular spot for runners, cyclists, walkers, and even rollerbladers (with the most hardcore ones wearing jean cut-off shorts…obviously). Furthermore, it is the center piece of the uber-popular Cooper River Bridge Run, which I plan on running this coming April along with 39,999 of my closest friends.
I try to run the Ravenel from time to time, but it can be a bit of a pain driving over to it when in a time crunch. Thus, I occasionally run on a much smaller (and less famous) bridge, the Paul Gelegotis Bridge, which is nearer to my home and thus more convenient. The “PGB” as it’s called around here (nope, that’s a lie), is short but offers a little bit of an elevation gain and is not nearly as crowded as the Ravenel. Chances are you’ll have the PGB all to yourself if running it, and at the very worst will have to share it with a handful (or less) of cyclists and co-runners.
Unsuccessfully attempting to get a few miles in before darkness fell, I headed out to the PGB yesterday evening. I parked in a dirt lot towards the Johns Island end of the bridge where I’ve seen people park before and thus assume it must be legal (air tight logic, right?) and headed off on my run. I had the bridge all to myself in terms of those seeking fitness (probably due to the fact that nightfall was rapidly enveloping the world in darkness), but there was a ton of vehicular traffic. The only reason I mention that tidbit is that it made the initial (and end) portion of the run a bit hairy given the fact that there is maybe a quarter of a mile where you find yourself running on a very thin shoulder or off in the grass before you hit the walkway of the bridge. Furthermore, there’s a turn in the road leading up to the bridge that most certainly will blind drivers coming from the Johns Island end to any runners that may be approaching their way until the very last moment. Note to self: Work on lateral jumping movements in anticipation of running the PGB again in the future…
All in all, I got in a total of 4 miles with a couple of nice views as the sun was going down. Bonus points were earned for not getting hit by a car. Not a bad way to end the week!