February 15, 2013

Runners, elephant ready for Myrtle Beach marathon Saturday

Be cautious if you’re on the roads of Myrtle Beach on Saturday morning.

Be cautious if you’re on the roads of Myrtle Beach on Saturday morning.

Not only will drivers need to be wary of competitors in the 16th running of the Myrtle Beach Bi-Lo Marathon, they also will want to look out for a wild animal or two.

Marathon organizers partnered with Dr. Bhagavan “Doc” Antle and The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.) wildlife education organization that he oversees to include a number of animals in race activities and contribute to the Rare Species Fund charity.

Trained animals from the T.I.G.E.R.S. wild animal nature preserve in the Socastee area have roles in the race’s affiliated runner’s expo, 5-kilometer race, Ripley’s Family Fun Run and the Dasani Half Marathon and Bi-Lo marathon races.

The HTC Expo on Thursday and Friday featured a baby tiger habitat, orangutans were present at the Ripleys Fun Run and 5k Friday, and Bubbles the elephant is expected to be at the start of the marathon and half marathon Saturday on Grissom Parkway near 21st Ave. North at 6:30 a.m.

The marathon has been donating to Horry County Schools, the Red Cross and Leukemia Society in recent years, and adds raising awareness for wildlife preservation and benefitting the Rare Species Fund to its philanthropic causes this year.

“We’re going to see how well it’s received and how to incorporate it, and if it’s successful we’ll hope to build on that in future years,” Myrtle Beach Marathon president Shaun Walsh said. “Because of the travel involved, if we were anywhere else in the country he probably wouldn’t be able to do it for the amount we’ll be able to raise for him this year.”

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