In its 22nd year, the Myrtle Beach Marathon and affiliated events have been consolidated, and the primary races will begin later.
The Myrtle Beach Marathon Health and Wellness Expo has been shortened from two days to one — this Friday — and all four races being held this year will be run on Saturday.
Marathon relay teams, which have come and gone in the marathon over the years, have again been eliminated this year.
So what once was four days of organized events, with a two-day expo prior to the main longer races Saturday and bike rides on Sunday, is down to two days.
“We really want to enhance the overall experience for the participants and the sponsors,” said Harrison Schenck, Capstone Event Group director of operations.
“When you drag it out to a couple days with a race this size, they don’t really get the full atmosphere and fun impact when it’s spread out too much. As the race continues to grow over the years, we’ll certainly look at extending more days, but right now with the race size as it is, we feel it’s [better] having a one-day health and fitness expo and one-day race day so everyone is around each other and engaging instead of being spread out.
“It’s concentrating the event to enhance the experience: put everybody together so they feel they’re part of something really big.”
Capstone of Raleigh, N.C., is in its third year of operating the race after taking it over from its local founders, and will operate more than a dozen marathons across the U.S. this year.
The start of the marathon and half marathon have been pushed back 30 minutes to 7 a.m., the 5K run, which was moved from Friday to Saturday last year, will begin at 8 a.m. and the nearly one-mile Family Fun Run has been moved from Friday to Saturday and will begin at 1 p.m.
“This way runners will be starting after sunrise, and it will hopefully make for a more festive start environment,” Schenck said.
The 5K course still has the same route but has been reversed, now starting at the Boardwalk near Plyler Park and finishing at Pelicans Ballpark. Runners will be shuttled to the start line from Broadway at the Beach between 7-7:30 a.m.
The Family Fun Run will begin on TicketReturn.com Field, include running the bases and finishing at the marathon finish line. “The difference in it being all in the same day is parents can run the main race, then run the kids race with their kids,” Schenck said.
The marathon/half marathon courses begin on Grissom Parkway just south of the 21st Avenue North intersection. The marathon course goes into The Market Common to the south and as far north as Grande Dunes Boulevard, and runs along parts of Ocean Boulevard, U.S. 17 Business and Grissom Parkway. The half marathon is run largely within the confines of the south end of the marathon course. The marathon course will close at 1:30 p.m.
The Myrtle Beach Marathon Health and Wellness Expo is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Ocean Reef Resort. It will feature more than a dozen vendors, and runners can register for races and pick up their race bibs and gifts there. It is free and also open to the public.
The number of participants in the primary races Saturday has already slightly surpassed last year, Schenck said, with nearly 1,300 in the marathon, more than 2,300 in the half marathon and nearly 700 in the 5k. The Family Fun Run has less than 100 entrants after 240 took part last year, but it often has late registration. “A lot of those folks don’t register until they know if the sun is going to come out,” said Cory Michel, Myrtle Beach Marathon race director and Capstone senior operations manager.
The event is on pace to experience its first overall increase in runners since 2014, when there were approximately 7,000 in the full and half marathons combined.
“Capstone feels so fortunate to be stewards of this amazing legacy event, and we are beyond grateful for the 20 years of hard work the local operators put in to make this race so special,” Schenck said. “This is and always has been Myrtle Beach’s race, and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue what has become one of the most beloved annual traditions in South Carolina.
“. … We are passionate about producing races and passionate about keeping what has made these races special.”
That includes beer and entertainment. The band Liquid Pleasure will perform at the Finish Line Festival, where Boston Beer selections and food from vendors, including Mellow Mushroom and Krispy Kreme donuts, will be available.
Several bands and DJs will be performing along the race route as well, and the post-race party at Oz and Malibu’s Surf Bar at Broadway at the Beach begins at 5:30 p.m. and the first hour includes free drinks for runners.
Myrtle Beach Marathon Events Schedule
Runner’s Expo: Ocean Reef Resort (7100 Ocean Blvd), 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Friday
Half Marathon: 7 a.m. Saturday
Marathon: 7 a.m. Saturday
5K: 8 a.m. Saturday
Family Fun Run: 1 p.m. Saturday
Post-Race Party: Oz and Malibu’s Surf Bar, Broadway at the Beach, 5:30 p.m. Saturday