Cooper River Bridge Run bringing elite runners and rollers to the Lowcountry

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – In less than 24 hours, racers will take their marks for the first time in two years on the Cooper River Bridge Runs 10k trek.

Matthew Porterfield, a participant in the Wheelchair Division, says he comes back every year. For the Tennessee native, the tradition began 15 years ago when the bridge run first began including the Wheelchair Division.

I started racing about 22 years ago… I got paralyzed when I was 18 and I just started a new thing and I kept going with it. 

Matthew Porterfield 

Meanwhile, Arelle Jones, an Elite in the division, made her race debut in 2019. She received first place. Jones says while she does not see herself as an “elite” she enjoys being named a record holder and first-place winner. Jones also competed in the Tokoyo 2020 Paralympic Trials.   

She says aside from being able to participate in the adaptive sport, she and Porterfield came back for another reason: hospitality.

Jones and Porterfield say the sponsors like Hollister, the Cooper River Bridge Run, and Roper St. Francis Healthcare treat the racers well and the Lowcountry has a lot to offer.

Daniel Guttentag, the Director of Tourism Analysis for the College of Charleston, says the race happening this weekend is a “shot in the arm” for fall tourism. The hospitality sector took a big hit during COVID-19, when Wine + Food, SEWE, and the bridge run got pushed back several times. 

While there may be 15,000 fewer participants this year due to the pandemic, Guttentag says the impact locally will still be felt. 

Nevertheless, we are talking about tens of thousands of runners and tons and tons of visitors coming to charleston and without a doubt. I don’t run the marathon myself, I’m not in quite good enough shape to do it. But I know I’d be super excited to be getting out there and running again.

Daniel Guttentag, Director of Tourism Analysis CofC 

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