FOR me, this is a day steeped in memories.
The Saturday before Labor Day, the perennial date of the Charleston Distance Run, for many years was an exercise in intensity for the Daily Mail staff.
Charleston is unusual in that it still has two daily newspapers. The Daily Mail and the Gazette have been cutthroat competitors for as long as I can remember, and both are the better for it.
That competition caused the Daily Mail to start pulling out the stops on Distance Run coverage in the late 1970s.
The Gazette was a major sponsor of the Saturday morning race, which had grown by leaps and bounds after starting several years earlier.
Daily Mail editors thought it would be a hoot to steal as much of the Gazette's thunder as possible by blowing out the coverage in our Saturday afternoon edition.
The Sunday Gazette-Mail is a combined edition, but it's hard for the news staffs to compete all week long and then play pretty on Sunday.
The top editors realized this when the two newspapers formed a Joint Operating Agreement in the late 1950s. They decided the Gazette would have a somewhat larger staff and be responsible for producing the joint Sunday edition.
The Distance Run saga is just one indication of how well those editors managed to preserve the spirit of competition.
I was the education reporter when the Daily Mail first tackled this challenge. This was a sports story, but if you were a warm body that day, you had a role to play.
Editors wanted to run multiple stories on the race and dozens of pictures shot from every vantage point — the starting line, points along the 15-mile course and the finish line.
They also decided to run a list of the top 500 finishers.
It was an ambitious plan.
This was before cell phones, before digital cameras, before newspaper pages were assembled on computer screens.
We had to secure use of a landline at Laidley Field, where a tag team would call in the names of runners and their times as they crossed the finish line.
Someone persuaded a city official to hoist one of our photographers above the starting line in a cherry picker to shoot the photo that would become iconic on our front page over the next couple of decades.
A couple of motorcyclists were recruited. A sportswriter, often the late great Jody Jividen, would climb on the seat behind one. They would zip along the course, tracking the top contenders so Jody could write a detailed story. A second cyclist would transport a photographer.
Back in the newsroom, I would be part of the team downing coffee and doughnuts as we waited for the phones to start ringing.