It’s been a long, cold winter of running.
Now, with spring just around the corner, South Carolina runners have a bounty of events to choose from that will keep them on the move through end of the year.
Here are a few of the most popular and fun events coming up on the annual racing calendar, along with the 2015 race dates.
Reedy River Run
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Date: March 7
Why we like it: One of the oldest races in the state, and one of the largest. The 10K event had nearly 900 registered finishers last year, and the 5K more than 1,300. The course runs through downtown Greenville, and there are few more attractive finish lines than Falls Park.
Get to the Green 5K
Location: Five Points, Columbia
Date: March 14
Why we like it: In Charleston, they run on Thanksgiving to make room for more turkey. In Columbia, they run on St. Patrick’s Day weekend to make room for more beer. This race, in conjunction with the hugely popular St. Pat’s in Five Points festival, typically is one of the largest runner turnouts in Columbia. Must wear green.
Location: Columbia to Charleston
Date: March 20-21
Why we like it: Teams run a nonstop relay race from Columbia to Charleston over two days. Up to a dozen team members can split the 200 miles however they want. The route follows back roads, and runners get in touch with rural South Carolina.
Cooper River Bridge Run
Location: Mount Pleasant to Charleston
Date: March 28
Why we like it: This is the race for runners who love crowds, as more than 30,000 registered runners (and many others) funnel over the Ravenel Bridge. It’s something every runner in South Carolina should experience, at least once.
Quarry Crusher Run
Location: Vulcan Quarry, Columbia
Date: April 18
Why we like it: This is one of the more unusual runs, especially tough on the leg muscles, as runners descend the steep road into the 400-foot-deep quarry and then climb back out. It’s only 3.72 miles, but you’ll feel like you ran much farther.
Date: Early November (not yet set for 2015)
Why we like it: Another of the old guard of races but still a favorite among avid runners. The courses, especially the half marathon course, have plenty of hills to challenge the legs and lungs. Ends and begins near the State House. The date of the Cup usually moves around to avoid football conflicts.
Ray Tanner Home Run
Date: Oct. 24
Why we like it: Gamecock fans and running enthusiasts alike can register for either 5K or 12K races, both ending with runners entering Carolina Stadium ballpark and crossing home plate at the finish line.
Sleigh Bell Trot
Location: Saluda Shoals Park, Columbia
Date: Tuesday before Thanksgiving
Why we like it: It’s a night race in which many people wear Christmas lights or sleigh bells. The lights bobbing along the trails at Saluda Shoals Park and the bells jingling in the woods add to the fun. South Carolina weather being what it is, this can be balmy or frigid, but there’s hot chocolate at the end either way.
Turkey Day Run and Gobble Wobble
Date: Thanksgiving Day (this year, Nov. 26)
Why we like it: It’s advertised as the largest 5K race in the state, with more than 6,000 participants. While the lead runners go for record times on the flat course through downtown streets, the bulk of the crowd is running to make room for more turkey later in the day. Holiday-flavored costumes are encouraged.
Paris Mountain Road Race
Date: Dec. 5
Why we like it: This is the longer distance, muscle-straining cousin of Columbia’s Quarry Crusher. The 20K run features both elevation and distance … and nice views if you can enjoy them through the pain.