Charity Walks, Road Races Highlight Active Spring in Myrtle Beach

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The month of March marks more than the start of the spring vacation season in Myrtle Beach. It also signals the beginning of a road-race stampede on the Grand Strand. If you like to stay active and have a good time with fellow runners during your Grand Strand getaway, pack a pair of sneakers along with your flip-flops and sign up for a spring road race.

Guests at Long Bay Resort can experience the best of both worlds during their Myrtle Beach retreats — a relaxing stay at a luxurious oceanfront resort and a chance to work up a sweat for a worthy cause by taking part in a charity road race. Whether you are casual race participant who prefers 5Ks and 1-mile fun runs or a hard-core runner looking to conquer a half or full marathon, the Grand Strand area has events for all walks of life — and that includes a popular walk “for” life.

The Grand Strand/Pee Dee Walk to Defeat ALS is scheduled for Saturday, March 25, at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach. This nationwide fundraiser has a huge local following, and hundreds of walkers and dozens of civic groups will gather at Grand Park to hit the sidewalks for a good cause. Funds raised at the event will benefit the South Carolina Chapter of the ALS Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Featuring 1-mile and 3-mile options, the Walk to Defeat ALS is more like a walk in the park than a competitive road race. Teams dress in matching shirts, march through the scenic park and gather at the adjoining picnic shelters and playgrounds after the event for food, fun and festivities. Participants collect pledges and make donations to the ALS Association after the event in an effort to meet the local chapter's fundraising goal of $35,000. Same-day registration begins at 9 a.m., and the walk starts at 10 a.m. For more information, visit www.als.org.

Other road races this spring include:

* Myrtle Beach Marathon: The 20th Annual Myrtle Beach Marathon promises to be another big one this year, with as many as 5,000 runners taking part in the March 2-4 event. Also featuring shorter races than the 26.2-mile main event, the Myrtle Beach Marathon includes a 13.1-mile half-marathon, a nighttime 5K and a 1-mile Family Fun Run. The marathon course runs right past Long Bay Resort during a scenic 10-mile oceanfront stretch. For registration information, visit www.mbmarathon.com.

* Earth Day Music Fest and Diabetes 5K: Held April 29 at Myrtle Beach Speedway, this Earth Day festival features a 5K that gives participants the chance to run around the historic half-mile racetrack. The post-race party moves to the infield for live music and a full day of events. For more information, visit www.wellnesscouncilsc.org.

* Divas Half-Marathon and 5K: Girl Power will be on full display at this May 7 event as participants don pink costumes to raise breast cancer awareness. As one of the largest all-female road races on the East Coast, the Divas Half-Marathon and 5K courses weave through the streets of North Myrtle Beach before finishing with a major post-race party. For more information, visit www.runlikeadiva.com.

After you cross the finish line and shut down the post-race party, it’s time to shift into the slow lane at the oceanfront Long Bay Resort. Take a nice soak in the hot tub, cool off in the indoor and outdoor pools, chill out on the oceanfront tanning lawn, or simply relax back in your room on the private balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Book your spring retreat at Long Bay and get ready to run for the fun of it.

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