The Cooper River Bridge Run 10K race in Charleston is the fifth largest race in the country with more than 40,000 runners each April. The Bridge Run director, Julian Smith, will start a new race, the Asheville Half Marathon, in June. / Mahmood Fazal / Special to the Citizen-Times
Written by, Karen Chávez
ASHEVILLE - The director of the Cooper River Bridge
Run - the fifth largest road race in the country, with more than 40,000
runners - is bringing a new half marathon to Asheville on June 7.
The inaugural Asheville Half Marathon and 10K will start and end downtown, with a cap of 3,000 runners.
Smith, longtime director of the Cooper River 10K race in Charleston,
S.C., has been planning the new race for several years, he said, seeing
many similarities between the two tourism-oriented cities.
is such a beautiful town and a great destination. It's such a healthy
place. People like the outdoors, they like to bike, they like to run. I
think it's a great fit," said Smith, 62, who took over as director of
the Bridge Run 22 years ago. "I think Asheville has the potential to be a
destination race. I think it will be a challenge, but I like
Bridge Run started in 1978 with 700 runners. It grew astronomically and
attracted such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, in 1994. It topped out at
47,000 runners five years ago, before Smith capped it at 40,000. It is
known for its live music and enormous after-party in downtown
race, on April 5, is now the fifth largest race in the United States,
after races including the New York City and Chicago marathons. Smith
said the Bridge Run has a $30 million impact in the Charleston
Asheville Half Marathon joins a growing list of Western North Carolina
half marathons, which at 13.1 miles is the fastest growing race distance
in the country, according to Running USA. Half marathons have been
growing about 10 percent each year, with an estimated 1.85 million
finishers in the United States in 2012, and more than 1,500 active U.S.
half marathon races.
Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore Estate, which debuted last year,
just added a half marathon to that race, said director Daphne Kirkwood.
The full and half marathon races will be March 16. Kirkwood said she
thinks the new Asheville Half Marathon and 10K in June will fit well
into the local running calendar.
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