MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach has always been a popular vacation destination during the summer, but what about during the spring and the fall?
Business owners in downtown Myrtle Beach said they're noticing more people vacationing earlier each year.
Just this weekend, thousands were in Myrtle Beach for the 21st Annual Myrtle Beach Marathon, which provides the area with a big springtime boost in tourism.
Plus, this year's race route brought runners right through the heart of downtown.
"We think the race really highlights the great parts of Myrtle Beach. The city is a huge supporter of the event; we cannot produce this race without their help," said Abbey Temple, vice president of Capstone Event Group.
Over 4,000 runners took part in the race and thousands more were there for support. A section of the race route stretching nine miles went down North Ocean Boulevard.
Tiffany Todd, a Boardwalk Coffee House barista, said even before the race, they were noticing business picking up earlier each year.
"Even before spring break started, we've had some busy weeks during nice weather," said Todd.
The weather during the race was not so nice. The sun was shining and it looked beautiful, but the wind was intense. Those mighty gusts ended up taking a bit of a toll on businesses along the boardwalk.
"The marathon did not bring in as many people as usual," said Dirty Don's bartender Dalton Novia.
This year, the finish line for 5K runners ended right on the boardwalk. Business owners think it will be more successful with warmer weather.
With the marathon over, business are still preparing for the spring break rush.
Myrtle Beach usually hits its peak in tourism around June, July and August, but the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is looking to market the Grand Strand as a year-round destination.
Plus, in the winter, many businesses close their doors for the season.
The chamber is hoping an earlier boost will help businesses stay open longer throughout the year.