Start training now for the Fifth Annual Myrtle Beach Mini-Marathon, which has quickly become one of the most popular half-marathon and 5K race weekends on the East Coast.
Scheduled for October 18-19, perfect fall weather for a brisk run on the beach, this event attracts thousands of runners from all over the country and abroad to take party in a festive weekend filled with activities that go well beyond the race course itself.
The Myrtle Beach Mini-Marathon has quickly earned a reputation as a social half-marathon, meaning the race is only part of the overall experience. In an era where fitness is as much a lifestyle as a sport, runners gather from all walks of life to meet others with shared interests and race them on the streets and along the beaches of the Grand Strand.
Pre-race and post-race parties create a festive atmosphere, beginning with the Health & Fitness Expo at the Grande Dunes Marina Inn. Runners pick up their race packets during Friday's Expo, as well as free samples from local sponsors and running shoe and apparel outlets. There's also room to socialize and enjoy sunset over the Intracoastal Waterway.
A carbo-loading pre-race dinner of pasta, pasta and more pasta is suggested early Friday evening so runners will be ready to hit the hay, and hit the ground running for the 7 a.m. start. With the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean, runners get the unique experience of an open five-mile stretch of oceanfront en route to the finish line. The average temperatures in Myrtle Beach at that time of day are 45 degrees at the start and 67 at finish time, about 9 a.m. Coupled with a cool ocean breeze, these are ideal conditions for runners looking to beat the clock and the heat.
Held in conjunction with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Strand Running Club and the North Myrtle Beach Running Group, the Myrtle Beach Mini-Marathon’s 13.1-mile half-marathon course winds through the Myrtle Beach oceanfront, while the 5K course sticks mainly to the Grande Dunes section of downtown.
All half-marathon runners break the tape at Plyler Park on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, where the post-race beach party begins. Beer and water flows and hot food is available while the awards presentations and live music plays on the outdoor stage. Coastal 5K runners wrap up their race at the Marina Inn, where shuttle buses will transport finishers to the beach party at Plyler Park.
But two-legged runners aren't the only species allowed to participate. The Doggie Dash gives runners the chance to complete a special 1.5-mile course created with humans and canines in mind. Pets and their owners don matching outfits and colorful costumes on their way to the finish line, and a post-race party for runners and their four-legged friends. All proceeds go to the Grand Strand Humane Society, while the other races benefit the Young Foundation.
The cost of registration is $105 for the half-marathon, $30 for the Coastal 5K and $20 for the Doggie Dash. Each participant receives an official race T-shirt, a surfboard medal for all finishers, and special medals for the top three finishers in each age and gender category. The post-race beach party is free and open to friends and family of finishers, and visitors are encouraged to line the course and cheer on the runners.
The race is capped at 4,000 total participants and registration is available online at www.runmyrtlebeach.com on a first-come, first-served basis.
Come for the fun or run for the health of it; the Myrtle Beach Mini-Marathon is worth miles of smiles.
(photo courtesy: RunMyrtleBeach.com)