MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The 25th annual Myrtle Beach Marathon is Saturday, and sports leaders in the city said a good sports tourism season is critical for the economy.

With the sound of the starting gun onSaturday, the sports tourism season will officially be here.

“The month of March we are getting ready for a very busy six weeks,” Sports Tourism Director Tim Huber said.

He expects about 4,000 runners Saturday, and on top of that, thousands of high school and college athletes will be making their way to the beach.

“The spring training is the second largest segment of the calendar as far as impact goes,” Huber said. “Mid-June to mid-August are far and away still king.”

Huber said with athletes traveling with their families, about 50,000 people will be in the city over the next six weeks, contributing around $40 million to the community. It’s not just running, baseball and softball. Golf plays a huge rule in spring sports tourism.

“The spring season is critical to our overall tourism economy because these are shoulder seasons so we really need and appreciate these visitors and they tend to spend a little more per person in the spring,” said Tracy Conner, executive director for the Myrtle Beach Golf Course Owners Association.

Conner said this year is already breaking records with April having 40% more rounds booked than last year. For March, 26% more rounds have been booked.

“We are just absolutely thrilled the way the spring is shaping up,” Conner said.

The Myrtle Beach Marathon and half marathon start at 7 a.m. Saturday.