Saturday, March 31 2012 7:35 PM EDT2012-03-31 23:35:08 GMT
As the announcers shared Bobby Mack had taken the lead in Saturday's 35th Cooper River Bridge Run, it was all the buzz among spectators near the finish line. Would this be the year for an American winner?More >>
Saturday, March 31 2012 2:00 PM EDT2012-03-31 18:00:23 GMT
While about 43,000 racers huffed and puffed their way over the Cooper River Bridge for this year's race, hundreds also sat relatively comfortably along downtown streets like King.More >>
By Brian Troutman firstname.lastname@example.org
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Thousands of runners and walkers heard his voice Saturday morning. Few probably realized where he was or his significance.
Tom Paulk was the announcer at the finish line of the Cooper River Bridge Run. He sat in a tent, armed with a microphone and a digital playlist of music sure to get blood flowing and legs moving. His importance, mainly, was to keep a steady pace and encourage those weak in the knees and light-headed to keep upright.
If you heard your name Saturday as you crossed the finish line, you heard Tom Paulk. If you were told to "keep moving" via a surround sound setup of loudspeakers, Paulk was doing his job.
"This is where the kick happens," Paulk said. "For people who are competitive along the race, this is where it gets the most competitive as they kick their way across the finish line."
For those not in the elite group, Paulks job is to keep their adrenaline pumping not just to help manage the crowd, but to help manage the health and safety of those tempted to collapse at the finish.
"I work to help get the crowd excited; to announce the folks that are coming across; to help paint a picture," he said.
Paulk said as a competitor, he always wonders where the race announcers are located. He said he was sure thousands of people played the life-size game of Where's Waldo, an attempt to spot him in the crowd.
"They are curious naturally and want to see where the action is taking place and what the vantage point is of the guy on the microphone," Paulk said.
Paulk was there hours before the race, but the scramble to get things set up for his important job began several hours prior to his arrival.
"There's always a lot of good people associated with these races that are responsible for putting them together behind the scenes. It's a big team effort, and pulling it all in and making it work is a great challenge," he said.
Paulk, who has worked as the announcer for several triathlons, worked the Cooper River Bridge Run for the first time Saturday. He is a business owner from Chesapeake, Virginia.