The 2010 version of the Cooper River Bridge run attracted 38,000 participants to run, shuffle and walk across the massive cable-stay span. Only a few hundred ran back in 1978 when the event was begun, and today it is considered among the most prestigious road races in America, drawing international running stars to compete. For most of its history, the run was made across the 1929 John Grace bridge, which was finally replaced by the present bridge in 2003. The Grace bridge was only built wide enough for two cars(1920's size), which made the old run an often clustrophobic affair over the former twin-cantilevered span. Despite the fact that the Ravenel bridge's eight lanes are more commodious, the ascending grade up to the 150-foot high roadbed above Charleston's harbor channel is longer and steeper, so the callenge is a little greater, and for most, the only reward is a t-shirt or a hat at the end of the run.
The idea of many moving bodies struggling to cross a crammed Charleston bridge actually predates the first bridge run by almost 60 years, although the ending the was very similar. In 1918, cattle being driven across the old swing-span Ashley River bridge stampeded into the city, crashing there way down into the commercial area where a few wandered into garment shops and grazed on flower-laden ladies hats. So it seems the cows and runners both ended their prospective runs with essentially the same prize.