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January 31, 2014

Myrtle Beach Marathon sees return of relay, says goodbye to bike ride

As runners prepare for the annual MyrtleBeach.com Myrtle Beach marathon, organizers of the Conway Area Bike Ride have decided to cancel this year’s event – typically held the day after the marathon – saying the weather is too unpredictable

As runners prepare for the annual MyrtleBeach.com Myrtle Beach marathon, organizers of the Conway Area Bike Ride have decided to cancel this year’s event – typically held the day after the marathon – saying the weather is too unpredictable

“Our February weather has not been very friendly,” ride organizer George Ulrich said. “Knock on wood we haven’t had to completely cancel. Last year we were very close.”

Last year, organizers had to delay the Sunday bike ride’s start time by about an hour due to some light snowfall the night before.

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“There’s not enough money in the world that would justify putting the riders’ safety at risk,” he said.

Ulrich is the human resources director for Horry County Disabilities and Special Needs, which provides support to people with intellectual and physical disabilities. All proceeds from the bike ride benefit the organization.

The Conway Area Bike Ride has been a day-three event connected to the Myrtle Beach Marathon since 2004, when bicyclists rode through Myrtle Beach, marathon director Shaun Walsh said. It moved to Conway in 2009.

New this year to the marathon is a neon spin to the usual night 5K. The Myrtle Beach area has seen a number of fun color-themed 5K races in the past couple of years. Those races typically feature participants having neon paint or powder thrown on them while they run along the course. Walsh said their 5K will feature light-up necklaces and bracelets instead.

“We’re spicing it up a little,” Walsh said. “We already run the risk of it being a little cold at night. The runners probably won’t appreciate cold paint being thrown at them.”

Making a return this year is a relay, where two- to five-team members run the full 26.2 marathon.

“We got rid of it in 2002 to free up slots for the half-marathon,” Walsh said. “We thought the time was right to bring it back.”

Walsh said many runners enjoy the relay because it offers an option for those who want to push themselves harder than a 5K or half marathon, but may not be ready to run full marathon on their own.

Walsh said registration was going well and runners could sign up for the marathon through the HTC Runner’s Expo, which will be held Feb. 13 and 14 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, as long as slots still were available.

Walsh said, as with every year, organizers had high hopes for this year’s events.

“We expect perfect weather,” he said. “I think the [events] will be pretty close to being maxed out. We always hope for good numbers.”

Ulrich said he hopes to still be able to hold the bike ride either in late spring or early fall when the weather is more conducive to bicycle riding. He said he is looking to partner with another event that’s happening in the area or, possibly, have the bike ride as the featured event.

“It could be an event that stands on its own,” he said. “We would ideally like to go through and work with another event. But all of the other options are still on the table – just not the February option.”

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