Hit the Ground Running at the 19th Annual Myrtle Beach Marathon

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Visitors have been coming to Myrtle Beach for generations to swim, splash, surf, shop, dine, fish, golf, party and play. But running? That's a relatively new phenomenon that began with the Myrtle Beach Marathon, which will be held for the 19th year on March 3-5. Thousands of runners from all over the U.S. and abroad hit the streets of Myrtle Beach for this event.

The 26.2-mile road race through America's No. 1 family vacation destination has created a new type of tourism for Myrtle Beach, one based on the growing trend of exercise and fitness. Runners love to use their sport as a way of exploring new places and meeting new people with similar interests, and Myrtle Beach has become a popular hot spot on the race circuit.

Since its inception, the Myrtle Beach Marathon has moved from the former Air Force Base to the heart of the downtown district, making for a more interesting route on the oceanfront and past the many attractions. The start/finish line is located at Pelicans Ballpark, about one mile inland from The Strand, where the post-race party and awards presentation are held.

The Myrtle Beach Marathon has also branched out to include more events and welcome even more runners. The main marathon is held in conjunction with the Dasani Half-Marathon on March 5, covering half the course with a 13.1-mile race. The Neon Night 5K is set for Friday, March 4, featuring a 3.1-mile run with the participants being coated in multi-color paints at each check point. The one-mile family fun run starts and finishes at Ripley's Aquarium, followed by a kids' post-race party.

It all adds up to more than 5,000 runners and even more fans and volunteers who line streets and offer cheers, water and words of encouragement to the participants. Friends and family members await their loved ones to cross the finish line and celebrate their accomplishment at the post-race shindig, which features live music, vendor booths, cold beer, food and refreshments.

With less than one month to sign up and train for the Myrtle Beach Marathon (the deadline for online registration is March 1 at www.mbmarathon.com), you might need to pound the pavement to get road ready for the race. If you happen to be in town before the race, you can join Team Training, the Myrtle Beach-based running group that has helped runners get ready for the race while also raising more than $3 million for charities for their work with the Myrtle Beach Marathon.

If you prefer to train on your own, there are several great running trails and paths to go for a nice run. Many prefer to walk or jog down the beach, which is perfect for guests at The Strand. You can simply walk down the beach access to start your journey, but here are a couple of tips: Try to go at low tide so you can walk in the packed-down sand, and walk north if you prefer the view of beach homes to hotels.

Guests can also walk north down the sidewalks to enjoy the view of Myrtle Beach’s famed Golden Mile of historic beach homes. A little farther north is Ocean Forest Trail, which runs along the oceanfront and features workout equipment at different stations. For those who prefer running off-road, the new “Hulk” Park (aka the Horry County Hiking/Biking Trails) at 10th Avenue North Extension provides a workout in the woods. The track at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium, just blocks away from The Strand, is open to the public.

Whether you decide to run the full marathon or just go for a nice stroll down the beach, The Strand is the place to go to unwind from your workout. Take a soak in the pool and hot tub, enjoy a drink from The Strand Bar, and relax on your private balcony overlooking the ocean for a full recovery. You can count on The Strand to go the extra mile to make sure your stay is a winner.

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