MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Salt Games is kicking off for its fourth annual competition in downtown Myrtle Beach. The festival pairs fitness with fun on the beach, and you don't even need to compete to enjoy it.
From Crossfit to surfing and beach volleyball, the Salt Games is about drawing everyone to the sand. The Salt Games organizers say it's modeled after a popular week-long Virginia festival, and that's what they could see it evolving into. The games used to be only one day, now it's two. Last year there were about 800 competitors and this year there's about 1,200 people from all over competing in 15 different competitions.
Myrtle Beach firefighter Tadd Ruben owns a crossfit box off Waccamaw Boulevard. He's competed in the games every year. Now he's also seeing new people at his gym stepping up to the challenge, joining hundreds of new competitors.
"We're all here to challenge each other...to promote a positive atmosphere. So we try to get each other to sign up...it kinda puts them on the spot because now they have to challenge themselves. It puts them in a vulnerable position to where they have to challenge themselves to doing new things they never thought they could do before. Even if they can go in and do one of the workouts with a minute time better than they could a year ago, that's progress," Rubin said.
Rubin's box, Crossfit Driving Formations, has increased it's crossfit competition numbers from 3 to 30.
"When the Salt Games first started it was nowhere near as big as it is now...and I think the workouts are a bit more challenging," he said.
The games combine beach life and healthy living out of the water, like with Crossfit, to in the water, with events like surfing and paddle boarding.
The crossfit community will have the largest showing at the games. The Native Sons Salt Games coordinator Steve Taylor says the crossfit event has increased to 550 participants alone this year. There's about 120 different teams. When the event began, there were only 75 crossfit competitors in all, Taylor says.
There are 1,200 competitors in all of the 15 different events. The other events range from wrestling, a 5k, yoga, paddle boarding, surfing and a lifeguard skills competition. Live bands, food and music will also be at the event.
A chunk of the proceeds will benefit the Surf Dreams Foundation. The Surf Dreams Foundation provides less fortunate children with surfing dreams, surfboards, leashes, wet suits and more, according to the Salt Games website. If you have any extra surfing gear that you no longer use, they ask you to bring it with you to the Salt Games and donate it to the cause.
There will be a kid's race, guppy surfing surf lessons and other activities.
The event is free, but most of the events required pre-registration to participate. The Sun Fun Festival will also be happening on the other side of the block at Plyler Park. The events are coordinating with each other to benefit the community and local businesses as much as they can. Taylor says vendors will be set up along the boardwalk to encourage to-and-from walkers to each festival. The Salt Games will be at the old Myrtle Beach pavilion side between 8th and 9th Avenues North.
For more information, event times, and what to bring, click here for the Salt Games website. The Salt Games is sponsored by the Native Sons, a local screen printing and embroidery company.