Thousands of people are descending on Myrtle Beach this week to participate in the massively-popular Myrtle Beach Marathon events this weekend.
It’s one of the highlights of the year, an always-welcome sight, particularly during the pre-tourism season when we could use the extra economic activity, and a host of non-profits benefit from the runners who take to the streets on their behalf.
In a couple of months, another race event will come to the area. It is called the “Myrtle Beach Challenge” and is being organized by Jason Greene, the same guy who helped bring the popular mud run – Run-A-Muck – to Myrtle Beach.
Greene has decided to use his skills and passion for running and the outdoors to help non-profits raise money.
The Myrtle Beach Challenge will benefit the literacy non-profit Freedom Readers, which now has four sites, two in Conway, one in Myrtle Beach and another in Georgetown. (It was founded by my wife, Tracy Bailey, who is finishing up research and writing for her doctorate in learning and literacy from the University of South Carolina.)
If you’ve ever seen the poplar CBS reality show “Amazing Race,” then you know the parameters of the Myrtle Beach Challenge and why people of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels can participate and do well.
I’d love to give you more details about the course that has been set in Myrtle Beach, but that part is confidential.
I can say that two-person teams will have to bike and walk and run throughout the city on the morning of April 6. The 20- to 30-checkpoints will include making their way to and through popular attractions in a competition that will require physical and mental tasks and tests the participants’ ability to solve riddles.
There will be no shortcuts or cheating – each team will be tracked by GPS.
The contest is limited to 50 two-person teams. Registration is $200 per team until March 15 and $220 after that date. At least one person on the team has to be at least 18 years old.
The race participants will get to see and explore Myrtle Beach in ways none of the area’s annual 14 million tourists or tens of thousands of residents ever have.
And their experience will make it easier to reach and teach more young students in the area who need the extra help with their education they don’t always get, which will make a difference the rest of their lives.
The program is already having real impact, with young kids who had trouble reading showing real progress and already-strong readers becoming even stronger.
The program also helps children in low-income areas build libraries in their own homes and requires public speaking and provides the kind of one-on-one attention that often isn’t possibly in large classrooms.
For more information about Freedom Readers, call (843) 251-1804 or visit FreedomReaders.org.
To register for the Myrtle Beach Challenge, visit mbc4good.com.