MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A huge sporting event drew thousands of people to the Grand Strand Sunday morning.
The Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon is just one event calling attention to our area's growing sports tourism industry. Continental Event and Sports Management, which hosts this Mini Marathon, says the hotels are nearly sold out.
This is the 5th annual Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. Organizers saw a 22 percent registration increase compared to 2013. That comes down to about 450 more participants, the biggest mini marathon yet, with a total of 3,800 runners.
"We've been able to see what marketing doesn't work, what traditional or new marketing does work and this has been over the years. With the help of CVB, they have a great staff there and when you ask they and you challenge them say 'hey help us out and see what really works,' they've never said no," explained Gary Pozo, CEO of Continental Event and Sports Management.
With sporting events and activities continuously growing along the Grand Strand, numbers prove sports tourism really is attracting people to our area by the thousands. And local businesses are taking notice.
Linda Beck, Moe Moon's Employee said, "This is busier than usual for this time of the year for sure."
CCU's lodging report forecasts a six to eight percent bump for this weekend - presumably the thousands of people in town for this race are impacting that increase.
"Our biggest sponsor and partner is the city and CVB. We're here because of them, we're able to produce this because of them. And anything they want we're there for it to partner up and make it bigger and better," Pozo said.
Sunday's marathon drew over 5,000 people including runners, their friends and family. Organizers say they do plan to talk with the city about expanding the course to allow even more people to sign up for next year.