Saturday's 19th annual Susan G. Komen Lowcountry Race for the Cure 5K has the potential for not only blowing away a participation record but becoming the second biggest race in South Carolina and even breaking into the Top 100 races in the United States.
But it's not because the race is getting substantially more runners, joggers and walkers.
It's because everyone will be timed and, therefore, officially counted. Before, participants had the option not to be timed, and easily two-thirds chose that option.
Komen Lowcountry Affiliate Coordinator Lisa Jones stresses that the decision to time all the participants should not scare off leisurely walkers.
"We did it simply because it's more efficient," Jones said. "Walkers should not feel like they need to walk any faster because of it."
Timing all participants - and Cooper River Bridge Run officials can attest to this - will pay off in national running rankings. After officials decided to time walkers, Bridge Run numbers leaped to more than 30,000, and the race became among the Top 10 biggest races in the United States.
Of the 18 previous Lowcountry Race for the Cure events, the official record is 3,070 in 2010, even though event officials have long boasted of 10,000 participants (many don't make the distinction between registrants and actual participants).
With timing, that official number should, conservatively, double. The caveat, particularly with walkers, is the weather as forecasts for rain keep many indoors.
If 6,000 are timed Saturday, Komen Lowcountry jumps to the second biggest race in South Carolina behind the Bridge Run. And if Komen Lowcountry gets to the 8,200 mark, it contends for a spot among the Top 100 largest U.S. races and Top 20 U.S. 5Ks.
Granted, many breast cancer survivors, families and other people may not care about rankings, but it does underscore the impact of the event and makes it nationally prestigious.
Many of the biggest 5K races in the United States, after all, are Race for the Cure events. Why wouldn't Komen Lowcountry want to be part of that force?
Meanwhile, Jones said Komen Lowcountry's total goals for this year, which include a 1-mile fun run and walk, are 10,000-12,000 registrants and fundraising of $1 million. Last year's event drew 10,600 registrants and raised $900,000, 75 percent of which stays in the Lowcountry to fund breast cancer screening and services.
The Lowcountry Komen Race for the Cure event kicks off at 8 a.m. Saturday with a Survivor Celebration at Family Circle Stadium on Daniel Island. The 1-mile fun run and walk follows at 8:30 a.m. and the timed 5K at 9:15 a.m.
Packet pickup and late race registration will be at Family Circle Stadium 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and starting at 7 a.m. Saturday.
Because of traffic congestion, participants are strongly urged to take free shuttles leaving from Tanger Outlet's Old Navy store and Mount Pleasant Towne Centre's Gap store starting at 6:15 a.m. Saturday. The last shuttle returning from Daniel Island to those centers will leave the island at 11:45 a.m.
Those driving to the race are strongly urged to carpool and to arrive early.
Folly Beach Challenge
For those wanting a less crowded, natural challenge, head to Folly Beach on Saturday.
The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission is hosting the Folly Beach Challenge triathlon, which features a 3-mile paddle (in a kayak, canoe or paddleboard), 8.5-mile bike and 3-mile run on the beach. The event starts at 8 a.m.
The paddle starts and ends at Folly Beach Boat Landing, followed by a short run down Center Street to the Folly Beach Pier, where the bike ride and 3-mile run will begin and end.
Online registration for the Folly Beach Challenge Triathlon ends Thursday. Late registration ($44 for individuals, $76-$96 for teams) will take place 4-6 p.m. Friday at the pier. Packet pickup will resume 6:30-7:30 a.m. Saturday. There will be no race-day registration, and the race is capped at 300 participants.
Yemassee bike tour
The Yemassee Revitalization Corporation will hold its third annual Prince William Cycle Tour at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. The tour consists of a 34- and 67-mile bicycle tour through the Lowcountry landscapes of Beaufort and Hampton counties.
The fee is $35. Proceeds benefit the revitalization group, which seeks to restore and beautify historic downtown Yemassee and preserve the natural environment surrounding it.
For more information, email YRC_Inc@live.com or call the YRC at 441-7402.
Cool the Pool
The Southern Marlins Racing Team is taking it upon itself to raise $20,000 to pay for a cooling system for the Martin Luther King Jr. Pool, a public pool in downtown Charleston.
It's partly for safety. In the summer, water temperatures can climb to 88-90 degrees, which is not healthy for competitive swimmers training a couple of hours or competing in longer distance races, such 400 meters or more.
On Saturday, SMRT youth swimmers will swim 200 laps, or two hours, whichever comes first, in the Cool the Pool Swim-a-Thon 6 a.m.-noon at W.L. Stephens Pool in West Ashley.