South Carolina men run for Jesus, carry 6-foot-tall crosses during 10K

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James Island residents Cedrick Nelson and Tim McKenney took the phrase “cross training” to a whole new meaning at the annual Cooper River Bridge Run: The men each carried a six-foot-tall wooden cross throughout the entire 10K.

They carried the crosses to proclaim their devout faith in Christianity and said they actually were able to run most of the way while carrying it.

“It’s a good message for 40,000 people to see; it’s something they can draw encouragement from,” Nelson said. “It’s a practical representation of what it looks like to carry a cross. This really is, ‘take up your cross and follow Jesus.’”

It was the first time the men have done the Cooper River Bridge Run. They just moved to the Lowcountry from Columbia.

They said they would walk around Lake Murray in Columbia holding the crosses, and the gesture got positive feedback.

“People there were inspired by it and we decided to carry them on the run today to give God glory,” Nelson said. “We were very worried about hitting people, though.”

The men are part of a small church in Columbia called the Great Commission Discipleship Ministries, which built the crosses.

They hope to start a similar church in Charleston.

“We’re not raising money, just raising recognition,” Nelson said.

They said that during and after the race, they were stopped by lots of people who were inspired by the symbolic gesture.

“So many people came by to talk to us; one lady told us she had been crying behind us when she was running," Nelson said. "She was following us and she saw the crosses and it reminded her of Amazing Grace."

Nelson said he estimates the cross weighs between 15-20 pounds.

“I’m not positive though—I've never put it on a scale,” he said.