Independence Day 5K brings people together during holiday weekend

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The Independence Day 5K kicked off Saturday’s holiday-related events in Myrtle Beach.

Horns sounded at 7 a.m. sharp, marking the start of the race in the Market Common. It was the 12th running of the event and the first time it was held on July 3. Race director Dawn White said she is proud to put on this event for the city.

“It means something different to everybody to come out here,” White said. “Some people, they’re running or walking in memory of someone, but for us as a race company, we just want to see people active, and we’re so excited to put on events for the city of Myrtle Beach.”

Karter Tow set a course record with a time of 16 minutes and 11 seconds. Tow runs the Independence Day 5K every year.

“My brothers used to run this race every year prior to this,” Tow said. “They would get second or third, and they stopped running over the years, so it’s kind of cool to actually win the race this time. I have that over my brothers, so that’s kind of funny.”

Tow’s family vacations in Myrtle Beach every year from Ohio.

“(Myrtle Beach) feels like home,” Tow said. “Just as many times as we come down here, I said ‘Myrtle Beach, you know I consider that a really close second to Van Wert.’ It’s really fun to come out here.”

Alyssa Beall of Conway was the first female to finish, with a time of 19 minutes and 45 seconds. She said the race brought back a sense of normalcy.

“It really stunk that last year I couldn’t do it due to COVID (because I) just wanted to stay safe,” Beall said. “I’m glad to be back and training for a 5K again, so this was my first one back in a year.”

Beall said she loves the Independence Day 5K because of what it represents.

“It means everyone’s coming together and being united, which is my favorite part about our national holidays — just coming together,” Beall said.

For Gerd Staadt of Fort Mill, South Carolina, today’s race was intentionally hard and painful. Staadt ran while carrying 70 pounds on his back.

“I basically want to make sure that we all remember that we live in a great country,” Staadt said. “We can enjoy freedom, but it is not free.”

He said carrying the extra weight is his way of honoring the sacrifice servicemen and women make every day.

“You sweat,” Staadt said. “Your body hurts, but in the end, this is part of it. This is what you need to go through. Once you finish, you feel much better.”

There will be another 5K Sunday morning in North Myrtle Beach. Details can be found here.

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