Despite the bad wrap that sugar-sweetened beverages have gotten in recent years, there is no denying that soft drinks are as American as apple pie, and their sweet nectar is part of the life blood of our country. While they may not be one of the World’s Healthiest foods, in moderation soft drinks can be part of a healthy diet, as can most foods or beverages. And when I say soft drinks, peoples’ minds usually turn to one word: Coke. And our good friends at Coca-Cola Bottling Company are proudly now part of our race day team.

Whether it’s the iconic bottle shape, the cursive writing, those adorable polar bears that dance to the Beach Boys, or recollections of “Coke floats” with a loved family member or old flame, most of us have warm memories and recollections relating to the cold, sweet fluid trickling past our lips and it’s warm fizzy feel on the tongue. And here in North Carolina, we have an ever closer relationship with the company, with their headquarters for their largest bottling operation lying in Charlotte.

Since its creation in Atlanta by a fledgling pharmacist in 1886 (10 years before the running of the first modern Olympic Marathon), it has been one of this South’s most well-known gifts and representations to the rest of the world, right up there with NASCAR (and probably much better than the gift of mass-produced cigarettes). As an athlete, you may be interested to know that even more so than milk, juice, and water, Coke could be considered one of the first true effective sports drinks. Before the introduction of electrolyte beverages, flat, warm Coke was a “secret weapon” of many marathoners of the 20th Century, as its mixture of caffeine, carbohydrate, and fluid helped them to avoid the “bonk” in their endurance endeavors (much in the same way as GU’s are used for their stimulating caffeine/carbohydrate combo). Some endurance junkies still use it to this day. So for the sake of tradition, glycogen repletion, and taste, don’t feel guilty about knocking back a glass of Coke Classic after a run every now and then. On a more regular basis, however, it may prove more wise to stick to some of the company’s more “athlete-friendly” beverages, such as Dasani water and POWERADE.

“Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (CCBCC) is the nation’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler. We make, sell and distribute Coca-Cola products along with other unique beverages. We operate in 11 states, primarily in the Southeast, with corporate offices located in Charlotte, NC. We pride ourselves in being a partner with our local communities and look forward to supporting the Asheville Marathon on the Biltmore Estate.”

It truly is great to know we’ve got a Southern-rooted, world-renowned company such as Coke to help sponsor the race and refresh the participants and fans. (This especially goes for those too young and teetotalers too prudent to partake in some of our adult tailored beverages from Sierra Nevada Brewery.) So whether you want some flat Coke Classic, refreshing Dasani, or revitalizing POWERADE, Coke’s got whatever floats your boat… or your “ice cream”! So be sure to show your appreciation to Coca-Cola Bottling as they help you “open up happiness” at Biltmore this March.