MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Security and the best way to effectively communicate are always concerns when it comes to big events. This year is no different as Myrtle Beach kicks off its series of running events, starting Friday night with the Grande Dunes 5K. But, things have changed for Saturday's 20th Annual Myrtle Beach Marathon.
Myrtle Beach police have started early to get ready. Fencing, tables and the skywatch tower are already set up throughout the Pelicans baseball stadium and marathon route. Myrtle Beach police spokesman Lt. Joey Crosby said the first security briefing is at 3:00 Saturday morning. The second is two hours later, and police officers will deploy to traffic posts shortly after.
Lt. Crosby said all officers will be on duty for the marathon. Other agencies including SLED, Horry County Police, Conway PD, Surfside PD, Coastal Carolina University police and the Horry County Sheriff's Office will also help out.
New this year, a drone will be keeping an eye on crowd and traffic control. Lt. Crosby said the drone will be utilizing aerial views of traffic patterns and the effectiveness of the barricades, especially at busy intersections. Police will move the barricades as needed, depending on what they see from the drone. That drone is stationed at the Pelicans baseball stadium, where the marathon begins and ends.
Lt. Crosby said electronic message boards will be posted along roadways to notify drivers of busy intersections. The drone will also be keeping an eye on those congested areas. They are 21st Avenue North and Grissom Parkway, 29th Avenue North and Grissom Parkway and Grande Dunes Boulevard and Kings Highway.
As runners prepare for the big Myrtle Beach Marathon events, medical teams are getting ready as well to ensure a safe 26.2 miles, half marathon, 5K and family fun run.
Starting Friday at 8 a.m., phone lines will open up for anyone who wants more information or has a general question about the races and road closures. That phone line will close Friday night at 5 p.m. and reopen Saturday morning at 5:30 before the marathon begins at 6 a.m. It's one of several communication improvements to make for a smooth race.
You'll see special event signs for the marathon hotline if you drive down Farrow Parkway, Ocean Boulevard or are around 65th Avenue North. Lt. Crosby said they were specifically placed in slower, popular driving areas to spread the word about the hotline. That number is (843) 918-INFO (4636).
Another important part of the marathon and all big events in Myrtle Beach are radio volunteers. They'll be scattered throughout the marathon's path, ready to make a call if anyone needs medical help.
The Grand Strand Amateur Radio Club spokesman, Gordon Mooneyhan, said their marathon volunteers save the Myrtle Beach Police Department between $15,000 and $18,000 for the event.
"Frees up police to be out on the course. We have 31 operators. That'd be 31 police officers they'd have to have otherwise...and we have an operator in police dispatch so that way if there is an emergency and police are needed. He can say, 'Hey, we can get someone here,'" said Gordon Mooneyhan.
Lt. Crosby encourages the public to follow the Myrtle Beach Police Department's Facebook and Twitter accounts for real time information.
The interactive map also provides up-to-date information on road closures.
Here are the links:
The Family Fun Run starts Friday night at 5:30. The Grand Dunes 5K is Friday at 7 p.m. The Myrtle Beach Marathon and Half-Marathon kick-off Saturday morning at 6:30 at the Pelican's baseball stadium.