Runners could be headed to the 2016 Myrtle Beach Marathon two weeks later than usual if things go the way event organizers would like.
Marathon director Shaun Walsh said organizers are hoping the completion of the new Myrtle Beach Sports Centre, a 100,000-square foot indoor facility, will give them an opportunity to hold the race on a later date. Construction of the facility began Monday and is expected to open the first weekend of March 2015.
“After speaking with the chamber and some businesses, Valentine’s Day weekend seems to be busy already,” he said. “The first weekend of March is a slow weekend anyway. … It’s about giving a boost to off-season tourism.”
Walsh also said having the race a few weeks later creates the potential for slightly better weather.
“I’m not sure, though, how much better the weather would be,” he said.
This year’s marathon came days after a winter storm hit the East Coast that kept some runners from making it to Myrtle Beach, and in 2010 the event was canceled due to snow.
Walsh said the first weekend in March is the best option, with the Canadian-American Days, St. Patrick’s Day and Pee Dee Street Rodders “Run to the Sun” car show taking place the other weekends of the month.
Pushing the marathon to March is something organizers have considered for a number of years, Walsh said, but had been impossible due to the high number of events held in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, where the event’s runner’s expo is held. The indoor sports facility could make more space available in March, he said.
“My preference is to keep [the expo] in the convention center, because it’s easy for the runners who are staying in the Sheraton [Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel] to just walk over,” he said.
Paul Edwards, director of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, said there are two events booked in the convention center March 2 to 4 in 2016.
“There’s no way that weekend would work,” he said. “I would say that they could probably do the expo over there [in the sports facility]. … Because of it being a sport, I think the sports center is a good location for it.”
The indoor sports facility is expected to help boost Myrtle Beach’s sports tourism business by catering to tournament-style events, such as volleyball and basketball tournaments and cheerleading competitions.
Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said the city’s Special Events Technical Review Committee would review any proposal from marathon organizers to change the date. The committee is comprised of staff members from various departments, such as planning and public safety, who review special event applications before they are considered by City Council.
“We’d have to take a look at it. It’s not out of the question” to hold the marathon in March, Kruea said.
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.