NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Expect to see more people, and more traffic, in the North Strand this weekend. Thousands of runners are set to hit the pavement for the Divas Half-Marathon and 5K.
The race tours ten locations and chose North Myrtle Beach for the weekend-long event for the third year in a row. The event kicks off Friday with a health and fitness boutique.
It's for "divas" only, and it's the largest half-marathon and 5k in the state. The event draws in more than 5,000 runners from across the US, which is at least a thousand more than the first year the event came to the area.
At least one person from each of the 50 states is expected to run, with the most out-of-state runners from North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Florida. Almost 90 percent of the runners come from outside the Myrtle Beach area. The race director expects these numbers to grow, especially since sign up is still open. Runners don't just come alone; the average non-local party includes three people.
More visitors means more business at local shops, restaurants and hotels, and those who come here for the Divas Half, stay for an average of at least two nights. At least 500 are booked at Oceana hotels.
"We have actually seen a significant increase over the years - over the two years that it's been here. The Diva Marathon started here in 2012. Since then we've seen almost a 100 percent increase in our occupied nights, so it has really increased significantly," says Ocean Resorts VP of Operations Kim Sanborn.
The marathon is a win-win for businesses and tourism, the lifeline of the Grand Strand.
"I think it's a big draw," Sanborn says. "I think there's a lot to offer in this area, and once they come here for the first time, they see how much is here, and they do come back. Whether they come back for this event, or they come back with a family for vacation," Sanborn says.
While any event like this is great for business, it will impact traffic on these roads. The big race starts at 7 a.m., Sunday morning, which means you may want to avoid the area.
To see the map with road closures and closure times, click this link: http://www.runlikeadiva.com/Assets/Continental+ESM+Digital+Assets/Women$!27s+National+Running+Series/NMB/NMB+Road+Closure+Map.pdf
For more information on the Divas Half-Marathon and 5K, visit: http://www.runlikeadiva.com/Events/Divas__Half_Marathon___5K_-_North_Myrtle_Beach.htm