Thursday, March 26, 2015

Myrtle Beach Marathon Race Rating

Race: Myrtle Beach Marathon
Date: February 14, 2015 (note the race will be in March in 2016)
Location: Myrtle Beach, SC
Year Running: 18th
Registration: $60 (with the extra early bird deal, which I think has passed for 2016)

Race Information
Size: 1478 full, 2793 half, 86 relay
Course Limit: 7 hrs
Min. - Max. Elevation: 0 - 50 ft
Min. - Max Temperature: 40-62
Charity Supported: Red Cross, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Airports: Myrtle Beach has its own airport, but some direct flights are seasonal (like from DTW). It seems like a lot of flights connect through Charlotte, which isn't a bad drive from Myrtle Beach, especially considering the money saved. We ended up flying on a baby plane to Florence because it was actually cheaper than ending our itinerary in Charlotte. I'm not sure if more options will be available now the race is moving to March.

Rental car: Could do without. Some of the host hotels have an airport shuttle, and there is also a race day shuttle. Depending what else you want to see in the area, you could live without one. (I think there is a bus system, but it seemed to be running very infrequently in February.)
Host hotel: Many. But be careful - lots of them only can be reserved by people over 25, and these aren't specifically marked on the Myrtle Beach website. Maybe people from beach towns know to look for this, but we almost got screwed. (Also, we stayed at the Crown Reef Resort, which I do not recommend.)

Communications: Very good. I think we got several emails leading up the race, including our bib number. It was communicated parking would be $3 at the expo, but it was not made clear that it was cash only. We got lucky I happened to have some. The expo is moving locations in 2016, so I'm not sure if this will still apply.
Expo: At the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, but it will have a new location in 2016. There was plenty of space, but the volunteers let people congregate in large groups and block aisles. I ended up feeling pretty claustrophobic.
Admittedly, it looks less crowded when I'm not hangry.
Other Activities: Friday night 5K, post-5K party, post-race party 
We didn't participate in any of these, but I think I've heard in the past that the 5K is fun. The post-race party sounded like a good time, but we had tickets for the Carolina Opry instead.

Race Day
Parking: Plenty, since it's at a honky tonk area. However, it was pitch black, and honestly dangerous to walk around in. Cars couldn't see you, and we almost fell into a ditch as well.
Shuttles: These cycled between all the host hotels every 15 minutes, but we didn't want to deal with finding them after the race, so we drove. I also read less than stellar reviews in the past, so I'm not sure if any of those issues were addressed this year.
Bathrooms: Plenty. We arrived at the start with about three minutes to go and walked right in.
On Time: Exactly on time.
Corrals: None, though they had pacer signs lined up. We got the whole road to start with, so it never felt crowded, even with the halfers.

Type: Loop
Terrain: Concrete and dirt/rock - major road along the beach, neighborhoods, bike path
Bathrooms: Every few miles, but there was a wait until about mile 18.
Crowding: None
Highlights: Myrtle Beach

Course Support: Great. There were plenty of volunteers, and most aid stations had a person clearly calling out the order of the water and Powerade. They also did a great job dealing with annoyed tourists that couldn't leave their hotels for a couple hours. I give them major props for that.
Spectators: Few, but it was unseasonably cold. 
Local knowledge of race: Hard to judge. The permanent population of Myrtle Beach is small, and we were mostly in the honky tonk areas.

Food: It seemed pretty picked over, and I couldn't find the promised donuts. There was a nice variety of sweet and salty options. They also had a police officer guarding the tent keeping out non-runners. He was a boss.
Atmosphere: Festive, since there was a post-race tailgate type area set-up. 
Party: The official one was later, but lots of people hung out and checked out the booths.

Shirt: Long sleeve technical T-shirt. I got a woman's small, and it actually fits!
The v-neck scared me a little, but it's pretty shallow once you put it on.
Medal: Awesome. I love the flip-flops to tie to the beach theme!

Each distance had it's own size and color.
Final Thoughts
  • I'm glad the race is being moved to March. While the weather could be perfect in February, it was pretty cold (relatively speaking) this year, and someone we ran with said it had snowed the past several race days. It didn't bother us during the race, but it was hard to enjoy the rest of our trip when it was in the 30's-40's.
  • Overall, the organization did a great job. I felt well taken care of on the course and afterwards. I think they could use some crowd control at the expo (but this might just be a Southern cultural thing) and maybe a few signs at the finish pointing towards the food tent. 
  • Be prepared for the wind. The race made no mention of it (but again, maybe people from beach towns don't even consider it?), and I'm glad I read about it on Marathon Guide. It really sapped my energy in the final miles, but I think it would've totally drained me if I hadn't been expecting it.
  • The course is very fast and flat. I did all my training in Michigan, and I don't think I noticed anything I would consider a hill the whole race. Some people have said they found the course boring, but coming from a small town, I thought the honky tonk was fun to see.
  • Lots of the typical tourist trap stuff is closed in the off-season, so research some other things to do. Charleston was a doable drive, and we really enjoyed taking a day to go there.
  • 50 Staters: Yes. The race is well-organized and a fun location. 
  • Non 50 Staters: Yes. Myrtle Beach is already considered a big travel destination, and it's fun to go when it's not packed to the gills with people. I would recommend it even more now that it's been moved to March and will be warmer.


  1. I've been to Myrtle Beach every summer since forever– so cool that they have their own marathon! And I love the t-shirt and medal that you got

    1. I went to Virginia Beach when I was little, and Myrtle Beach reminded me a lot of that. I think this medal is one of the coolest I've gotten!