Cooper River Bridge Run Director Brings Half Marathon To Asheville

10:01 AM, Jan 16, 2014   |    comments
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
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

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.

Julian 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.

"Asheville 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 challenges."

The 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 Charleston.

The 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 community.

The 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.

The 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.

Click on Asheville Citizen Times for more

Most Watched Videos