Columbia, SC boasts more than a thriving downtown with rich history and Southern charm. This centrally-located South Carolina hot spot offers beautiful and unique natural venues accommodating a variety of sports events. Its three distinct rivers, scenic lakes, forests and parks distinguish this capital city as a superior location for sports events and recreation.

The Broad River features three miles of unobstructed, calm water, making the perfect venue rowing winter and spring training. With mild temperatures and water that never freezes, the Broad River has been the training location of choice for over 40 rowing teams since 2003. Richland County rowing facility offers teams a purpose-built 100-foot rowing dock as well as near-perfect water for training.

The Saluda River's Class II to IV rapids ' including Stacy's Ledge, Blast o'matic and Mill Race Rapids ' make an exceptional whitewater experience. In 2007, the Saluda River set hosted the IFC Junior Wildwater World Championship, the first international whitewater competition held in the United States, where more than 120 competitors from 15 different countries competed.

Formed as Saluda and Broad rivers meet, the Congaree River calmly flows through the heart of Columbia and offers a scenic venue for events or recreation just steps from thriving entertainment districts. The Congaree River flows through South Carolina's only national park, Congaree National Park, which offers 22,000 acres including over 20 miles of hiking trails, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. The majestic park features the largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest remaining on the continent and contains some of the tallest trees in Eastern North America.

Further up the Saluda River, 50,000-acre Lake Murray stretches 41 miles long and up to 14 miles wide. The lake offers canoeing through calm waters, sailing through cutting winds, boating, swimming and fishing. Dreher Island State Park's 348 acres and 12 miles of shoreline hosts many major fishing tournaments, including Walmart FLW Tour and B.A.S.S. Bassmaster.

Off the water, Harbison State Forest encompasses 2,177 acres of forestland less than ten miles from the downtown district. Its unique urban location offers a surprising 16 miles of trails that weave through the pine and hardwood forest, crossing wandering streams and descending through leafy glades to the Broad River. Events such as the EXTERRA Harbison Half Marathon use the scenic trails to offer competitors a truly unique 13.1 mile course.

The United States Marine Corps Mud Run, hosted for nearly 20 years in Columbia, is counted as one of the most successful and creative uses of natural terrain. Combined with man-made obstacles, the 5.2-mile course has hosted over 14,000 participants, making it the largest mud run in North America.

With more than 300 days of sunshine and year-round temperate weather, Columbia, SC sends a warm invitation for competitors, trainers, trainees or simply those seeking to enjoy the many natural venues. Let Columbia, SC be your New Southern Hot Spot for your next sporting event.

Contact Scott Powers, Executive Director of Columbia Regional Sports Council, at spowers@columbiasportscouncil.com or (803) 545-0004 for more information.