MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – One of the Grand Strand’s largest sporting events will happen later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 24th Myrtle Beach Marathon, which was scheduled for Mar. 6, has been postponed. Last year’s race on Mar. 7 was the last major sporting event on the Grand Strand before the pandemic began.
It’s usually the first Saturday in March, but coronavirus has pushed this year’s marathon back two months to May 1.
“I am disappointed the race has been postponed, but I understand why,” said Akemi O’Briant, who’s a runner and employee at Black Dog Running Company.
O’Briant is not only signed up for this year’s marathon, but trains other runners at the running store in The Market Common.
“This year, I thought was my year for the Myrtle Beach [personal record],” she said. “It’s one of my favorite races, but under the circumstances, these types of things happen and then that’s what you have to just take a step back and reevaluate.”
In a statement, the organizer Capstone Event Group says after working with the city and Grand Strand Medical Center, there would not be enough first responders to properly staff the course or outside TicketReturn.com Field. About five thousand runners ran in the marathon, half-marathon or 5k last year.
The decision to move was not one that came easily, but after working closely with our partners at the City of Myrtle Beach and at Grand Strand Medical Center, we determined it was the safest path forward considering the current allocation of Myrtle Beach city and medical resources.
Given the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, Myrtle Beach medical personnel and public safety resources are rightly prioritized treating patients and administering vaccines, and would not be available to provide the necessary medical and public safety support on our originally scheduled March date.
We worked diligently with the City of Myrtle Beach to secure the new May 1 date, at which point we all believe we will have the necessary resources and personnel to safely produce the Myrtle Beach Marathon.Harrison Schenck, director of operations for Capstone Event Group
The event typically helps kick off spring tourism on the Grand Strand.
“Not knowing how quickly vaccines will be distributed, what our cases will look like of coronavirus, I think it was a very smart, strategic thing to say let’s postpone, not cancel,” said Karen Riordan, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Riordan also says she’s working with hotels to help make up for any potential losses in one of the region’s quieter tourism months, including attracting smaller events to the area.
“We’re hoping to get a lot of golf business in March if mother nature cooperates of course too, but I think that March right now, as we round the corner to get close to February, is still a really hard month for people to predict,” said Riordan.
All registered runners are automatically signed up for the May 1 race, but you can also run your race virtually by Apr. 30, wait until next year to compete or get credit back for another event.