The Myrtle Beach Marathon brings thousands of runners to town for a 26.2-mile trek through town in March, and the Oct. 18 Myrtle Beach Mini-Marathon has grown into the second largest road race on the Grand Strand. But in between are some excellent 10K, 5K and one-mile fun runs, especially this holiday season. Here are some of the upcoming events that will allow you to have a great time, get some exercise and enjoy the holiday season in Myrtle Beach and the Long Bay Resort:
* Haunted Hustle 5K (Oct. 21): Dress up in your best Halloween costume and run through the streets of Pawleys Island with other scary characters. This historic town is home to numerous ghost stories and figures, like the mysterious Gray Man that appears to warn islanders of approaching hurricanes, or Alice Flagg, the broken-hearted heroin who is reported to tug at the wedding rings of unsuspecting brides. That should serve as plenty of motivation to post your best time as prizes are awarded for the top-three finishers and costumes.
* Chauncey's Night 5K (Oct. 30): Runners love the cooler temperatures of a nice night run and this event, named for Coastal Carolina University's rooster mascot, provides a safe and fun environment. Runners dress up in day-glow outfits and receive other glow in the dark items to create a colorful spectrum on the campus course, which starts and finishes at Brooks Stadium for a post-race party.
* Third Annual Running Dead 5K (Nov. 1): The morning after Halloween there are still lots of zombies and monsters roaming the streets of Myrtle Beach, but don't be alarmed. They are likely runners dressed up as the undead to compete in this 5K race at the Hulk, aka the Horry County Bike and Run Park, beside the Ripken Experience Baseball Complex.
* 24th Annual Pawleys Island Turtle Strut 5K (Nov. 14): You know about the tale of the tortoise and the hare, and the turtle is the big winner of this race too as a symbol of Pawleys Island's slow, laid-back lifestyle. Run through the historic seaside village and see the “arrogantly shabby” beach homes and beautiful white-sand beaches. The race starts and finishes at Pavilion Park and the party lasts well after the final turtle crosses the line.
* Brookgreen Gardens Health Point Turkey Trot 5K (Nov. 21): This just might be the prettiest 5K course on the Grand Strand. Held in historic Brookgreen Gardens, a former Lowcountry rice plantation that was converted into a botanical sculpture garden, this 5K course winds through a colorful landscape and numerous works of art. Runners can enjoy the beauty of the gardens while working up a sweat, and then enjoy the after party at this Murrells Inlet venue.
* Myrtle Beach Area/Calabash Turkey Trots (Nov. 26): You can spend Thanksgiving Day packing on the pounds and watching football, or you can get active and join the crowds for one of two different Turkey Day road races. The Myrtle Beach Area Turkey Trot offers 10K, 5K and 1-mile fun run options through the streets of Surfside Beach, while the Calabash (NC) Turkey Trot gives participants a 5K run/walk alternative through the historic fishing village. Both towns are hot spots for seafood, so you can celebrate the holiday and your accomplishment with a surf and turf, shrimp and turkey dinner.
* Rivertown Reindeer Race (Dec. 5): Wear your favorite Christmas running gear and make like a reindeer by running through the streets of historic Conway. Starting and finishing at Conway Marina Park, the 5K course leads runners along the banks of the scenic Waccamaw River and through the tree-lined streets downtown.
* Race into the New Year 5K (Dec. 31): No need to wait for a New Year's resolution to get active over the holidays. This North Myrtle Beach 5K starts at Barefoot Landing and weaves through the complex en route to race sponsor Risen Christ Church for a post-race party.
So lace up your sneakers this holiday season and celebrate with a run through the streets of the Grand Strand, and be sure to rest up before and after your race with a relaxing stay at Long Bay Resort.