Unless you require snow and mountains to satisfy your outdoor lifestyle appetite, Charleston was the place to be in 2012.
As someone who has tracked running, paddling, surfing, triathlon, yoga and all things sweaty, sunny and salty for years, Charleston’s fitness and outdoors community continues to grow and blossom.
Where to begin?
It was yet another record-breaking year for Charleston’s big five events: the Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk (36,755 finishers), American Heart Association’s Lowcountry Heart Walk (police-estimated 5,200 raised a record $650,000), Susan G. Komen Lowcountry Race for the Cure (5,380 raised a record $900,000-plus), Knights of Columbus Turkey Day Run and Gobble Wobble (5,672 finishers) and Reindeer Run (2,137 finishers).
New and old
The year also ushered in an array of new events.
Arguably the biggest hits were the rUNdead zombie 5K in late October at Old Towne Creek County Park, which reached its 500-person cap two weeks before the event happened, and the Race The Landing 5K series, featuring five themed 5Ks at Charles Towne Landing.
The series was the first time a running event had been held in the park, once a popular location for runs, in 12 years.
Among the other new events were Ocean Surf Shop’s Ice Box Open surf contest in, of all months, February, the Carolina Coast Surf Club’s Surf Expo in July, Run for the Coast 10K “eco” beach run to benefit the Charleston Surfrider Foundation in September, the Monster Mega Mud Run at Legare Farms in September and the Oktoberfest 5K for East Cooper Community Outreach.
The downside was that a couple of events may have met their end.
After five years, the Folly Beach 10-miler in the crowded race calendar during November was not held. And due in part to a conflict with parking, the Kiawah Island Triathlon, an Olympic-distance tri held the third week of September for 19 years, appears to have run its course.
One sight to see in 2012 was organized as part of the grand opening of the new Lululemon store on King Street in June. Yoga on King nearly reached its goal of having 500 people doing yoga on a closed-off block of King Street. It prompted a follow-up event, Joga (yoga at Riley Park) in late August.
Almost as hot as yoga, paddlesports, notably stand-up paddleboarding, continued to carve a niche along Charleston waterways.
Paddleboarding, such as the Shem Creek Shootout and Golden Nugget, continued to draw locals and out-of-towners.
Acknowledgment of Charleston’s paddling muscle, thanks partly to the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, came when the American Canoe Association chose the area for its fifth annual Paddlesports Conference and SUP Summit in early November.
Tri and beyond
The Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series made national news, somewhat, when its biggest celebrities to date, NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne, competed in early July.
Perhaps the biggest physical feat of the year by a local was accomplished by Charleston City Councilwoman Kathleen Wilson.
In September, the 49-year-old marathon swimmer, who had completed 11 previous big swims (including the English Channel), completed the 26-mile Molokai Channel swim in 20 hours, 49 minutes, calling it her toughest test to date.
Two weeks later, she was busy coordinating the second annual 12-mile Swim Around Charleston.
Out on the Isle of Palms, the hub of beach volleyball in the Charleston area, The Windjammer, celebrated its 40th anniversary with what it does best: volleyball, beer, bands and bikinis.
A reorganized Push-Up Challenge, now known as the Push-Up & Up Challenge, focusing on dropout prevention, drew 220 people on 37 six-person teams, which cranked out 62,545 push-ups and raised more than $36,000 for Communities in Schools.
One big number was posted in 2012 by the Healthy Charleston Challenge, a model of weight loss programs at the Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center. After 10 sessions over five years, the challenge celebrated a total of 20,000 pounds — 10 tons! — lost by its participants by simply eating right, exercising vigorously and changing attitudes.
What better place to have an attitude adjustment than right here in Charleston. Plenty to do year-round.
And 2013 shouldn’t be any different.