MYRTLE BEACH — Numbers for the Bi-Lo Myrtle Beach Marathon this year are in line with the 2012 race, though there are still spots left in all three running distances.
With 7,250 racers signed up between the 5K, full and half marathon distances, there are only six fewer runners compared to 2012. Turnout for the half marathon – the biggest of the three running races – is down by 122 runners while the 5K is up by 66.
Shaun Walsh, president of the marathon, said runners can still sign up at the Runner’s Expo Thursday or Friday. That’s when, he said, there can be a spike in the 5K turnout which doesn’t require as much training as the longer distances.
“People might say ‘It’s a nice night, let’s go race,’” he said.
For anyone taking that route, Walsh said the deadline to register is 3:30 p.m. Friday for the 5K.
The expo runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Registration at the expo costs $150 for the full, $140 for the half, $50 for the 5K and $15 for the family fun run.
While the race is still not sold out, Walsh said they’re not disappointed with the turnout.
“We’re kind of flat,” he said. “But given a lot more competition in the region, really along the East Coast, we’re pretty pleased.”
Capacity jumped in 2012 to 8,000 between the three races, a jump of 1,000 runners. So breaching the 7,000 mark is still good news for race organizers.
Walsh said it’s really not about making a profit either.
“We’re a nonprofit group so we try to put as much money back to our charities as we can while still being able to brand our race,” he said.
Each year the race partners with the American Red Cross and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This year, Walsh said, the goal was to find a more global reach so they partnered with Myrtle Beach-based T.I.G.E.R.S. – The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species.
A baby tiger habitat will be set up at the expo and weather permitting orangutans and an elephant named Bubbles will make appearances.
“We’re trying to build awareness to the plight of how these animals are basically being wiped off the earth and the impact they have,” Walsh said. “The big push this year is conservation and continuing to leave a better footprint. We’re trying to do as much good in the community as we can.”
The animals, he hopes, will give Myrtle Beach an edge against the other nearby races.
“As a runner, there’s plenty of competition,” he said. “Charleston has a marathon, Kiawah has a marathon, Wilmington, the Outer Banks. That’s just regionally. If you’re going to run and you want to make it different, this may be a deciding factor.”
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_akelley.