MB Marathon provides area economic kick in offseason

nathan-mooreNow in its 17th year, the Myrtle Beach Marathon has grown from an idea developed by a group of friends training for the Chicago Marathon into a $6 million dollar annual economic burst for the Grand Strand in the cold, lonely month of February.

With more than 10,000 runners coming from all over the country, it’s an obvious fact that the local hotels, motels, and restaurants will see a direct impact over the weekend. But, the indirect impact is an area that is often overlooked.

The weekend is traditionally one of the busiest of the winter for Daniel Brass’ Black Dog Running Company store on Highway 501, inside the Sports Corner.

“We definitely see an influx of traffic, and a lot of out-of-town visitors. People get excited about the event, people that we see maybe once or twice a year, that come for big events, come back into the store and visit us,” said Brass. “We sell a lot of things that we don’t normally sell to the average customer, including apparel pieces or store logo stuff to people picking up a souvenir from the race.”

Race-related companies aren’t the only ones to see a significant bump in business. Mammy’s Kitchen, which closes for two months in the offseason, makes sure to be open for marathon weekend because of the influx of fleet-footed traffic in town.

“We always re-open the Friday before the marathon because it’s really the first busy weekend of the year,” said Mike Lambert, co-owner of Mammy’s Kitchen with his wife, Missy. “We get a lot of runners and their families, and a lot of people who come downtown to watch the race.”

Not only do hotels and restaurants feel the impact, so do the businesses that service them. With all those people in town, accidents are bound to happen, and another indirect benefit comes to businesses that make repairs. A&I Fire and Water Restoration’s Marketing Director Jennifer Sweat says the company she represents is a prime example.

“Anytime you have more bodies in hotels, and more people in town, the opportunity for a mishap to happen is greater. Whether someone hangs their clothes from a sprinkler head and it pops off, or maybe someone has a mishap and floods the bathroom floor,” she said. “Those accidents directly affect us when we are called in for the repairs.”

Before opening Black Dog Running Company, Brass was a competitor in a local race and traveled with his wife to the area to compete. He began to fall in love with the area, the opportunity, and the local running community. Now approaching its second year of operation, Black Dog has become a major contributor to both the running community and to the local economy through tax receipts and job creation.

Once runners decide to make the move like Brass and his family, the housing market becomes the first stop for many of the new transplants. Rick Poston of Rabon’s Housing Center on Highway 501 has had more than a few folks make the move after visiting the Strand for a running event.

“They come down and discover all that the area has to offer. Many people begin considering retiring to Myrtle Beach, or making the move from the snow. When they come see us, they’re already ready to find a place and get started. We just steer them in the right direction, whether we build them a house, or find something within our communities. We have most certainly seen an impact from events like this,” said Poston.

The runners begin to arrive Wednesday afternoon, with the Expo set to begin on Thursday. The events will continue Friday with the Fun Run, post-race party at Ripley’s Aquarium and the Neon Night 5K race.

Raceday Saturday begins at 6:15am and continues through the post-race party at the House of Blues, pausing during the day to allow those runners to return to their hotels and venture out into the city, visiting restaurants and attractions, including the beach.

It’s hard to imagine with ice on the ground that visitors could spend their Sundays on the beach enjoying sunshine and near 60 degree temperature, but that will be the case. Those same visitors will remember the race, the friends made, and the beautiful Myrtle Beach area. If like Brass, they’ll end up transplant business-owners fueling the next cycle of growth.

Photo Courtesy Grand Strand Running Club, Credit: Nathan Moore

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