In its second year operating the Myrtle Beach Marathon and affiliated events, Capstone Event Group out of Raleigh, N.C., is making a few changes.
The 21st Myrtle Beach Marathon is this upcoming Saturday, and the group is moving the 5-kilometer run from Friday to Saturday, moving the Family Fun Run and post-race party locations, and limiting the relay to four members per team.
The 5K will start at 6:20 a.m. Saturday – 10 minutes before the marathon and half marathon races – near the marathon start location near the intersection of Grissom Parkway and 21st Ave. North, and it will follow much of the early marathon course.
The 5K will continue straight to the ocean rather than turn on Kings Highway, however, and will finish on the boardwalk at Plyler Park near the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion site.
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The 5k finish line will have a disc jockey and refreshments and shuttle service to the half/full finish line.
“We just wanted to serve families who we thought would have family members running both the 5K and full or half,” said Harrison Schenck, Capstone senior operations manager and Myrtle Beach Marathon race director. “If we had them on the same day, if they were traveling from out of town, they wouldn’t have to stay an extra night. It was also recommended to us by the city. They thought it would logistically be a better fit and we were thinking about it anyway.
“We’ll give it a shot this year and see if people like it, and if they don’t maybe we’ll change it. But I think they’ll like this, it’s really cool.”
The Grande Dunes development has become a sponsor of the 1-mile Family Fun Run, which is being run at 5:30 p.m. Friday, and the race is moving to the Grande Dunes marina. Schenck said Grande Dunes is donating up to $5,000 to Horry County Schools physical education programs based on student participation in the Fun Run, with up to $3,000, $1,500 and $500 being given to the three schools with the most runners.
Marathon relay teams in the past have had between two and five members, but will be required to have four this year. “We found the main appetite was for the four legs, and it was such an undertaking to have these other options that weren’t being used as much, so we decided to streamline it,” Schenck said.
The post-race party from 5-7 p.m. Saturday is moving from the House of Blues to RipTydz on Ocean Boulevard, and the band Painted Man will be performing.
The Runner’s Expo at the Myrtle Beach Sports Center kicks off race-related events, and is being held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday and 1-8 p.m. Friday. It is free and open to the public. Runners can register for the races through the close of the expo Friday.
Schenck said race participation numbers are down this year. There are about 1,300 registrants for the full marathon, 2,100 for the half marathon, 332 for the relay and about 500 for the 5K.
Last year, the race drew nearly 1,600 in the marathon, close to 3,000 in the half and about 500 in the relay. The 5K has traditionally attracted 1,000 or more runners.
The marathon has experienced participation decreases in each of the past four years, In 2016, former race president Shaun Walsh said then that there were more than 2,000 in the marathon, more than 3,200 in the half marathon, slightly more than 500 in the relay and about 1,000 in the 5K, and those figures were down slightly from 2015.
Entry fees are $130 for the full, $120 for the half, $40 for the 5K and $10 for the Family Fun Run. Prices for the marathon and half increase to $140 and $125 on Tuesday and remain the same for the other events.
Capstone, which will operate more than a dozen races across the country this year, took over operation of the marathon last year from a group of local running enthusiasts who created the race, and little changed for the 2017 race.
Capstone still doesn’t want to make any drastic changes, and will evaluate the event each year. “We really want to just continue doing this event the way it was done,” Schenck said. “We want it to be an event people in Myrtle Beach can be proud of. We do customer service feedback and we’re always looking to make it better.”
The marathon route is not changing and will again end at Pelicans Ballpark. The flat course has become popular with many who are attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon. “I don’t know the exact number, but it gets dozens if not 100 or more Boston qualifiers every year, people who come to qualify and end up qualifying,” Schenck said. “It’s a huge draw for people.”
Schenck believes this year’s race will operate smoother than last year, since the organizers experienced the race once and have had a year to work with Joey Crosby of the Myrtle Beach Police Dept. and Myrtle Beach city parks superintendent Richard Kirby.
“Doing it last year everybody understands how everybody else works,” Schenck said. “It seems low pressure at this point. Everything is in place, we know how everything is going to go. We know what Joey’s team is doing, we know what Richard’s team is doing, now we just have to execute it.”
Myrtle Beach Marathon Events Schedule
Runner's Expo: Myrtle Beach Sports Center, 6-8 p.m. Thursday, 1-8 p.m. Friday
Family Fun Run: Grande Dunes marina, 5:30 p.m. Friday
5K: 6:20 a.m. Saturday
Half Marathon: 6:30 a.m. Saturday
Marathon: 6:30 a.m. Saturday
Relay: 6:30 a.m. Saturday