Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Great Blizzard of 2010: Myrtle Beach Marathon Pt. 1

So, I've trained for months, spending hours running. I purchased new shoes. I spent $100 bucks, that isn't easy for me to come by, on entry fees. I took time off work. My wife also took time off work. We drove for hours to get there. We showed up to the expo and picked up my bib number and stuff. I started actually getting excited about running my first marathon. Because it was a special trip (Valentine's Day and the marathon) my wife and I decided to splurge and get a nice dinner. A light snow flurry began to fall. We drove back to our apartment to get ready for the big race in the morning, stopping by Walmart first to buy a pair of galoshes for my wife so her feet wouldn't get soaked as she watched me along the course. We flip on the local news to hear them announce that the Myrtle Beach Marathon is canceled...And all I got was this stupid T-shirt.

That's right, race fans. The powers that be decided that they should cancel the marathon because a light snow was falling and that the forecast called for more snow throughout the night. The trouble was, none of the snow from The Great Blizzard (which measured at about 2 in.) had actually stuck to the roads. The road got wet. That's all. The suits at the city decided that for everyone's safety, rather than push the marathon back an hour, it would be better to cancel the whole dang thing. They thought that the runners wouldn't be safe on the "open" parts of the course with wild motorists wreaking havoc. It can be hard to spot thousands of runners out on the road. My wife said something like, "The streets are just as dangerous when it rains". Would they have canceled the marathon if it rained and got the streets all wet?

So we sat back and watched the opening ceremonies of the winter Olympics instead, glancing at the little update strip at the bottom of the screen. Over and over again it stated that the marathon had been canceled. Occasionally the local news station would interrupt NBC with information about The Great Blizzard. They would cut to a field reporter dressed in his best arctic apparel, standing out in the middle of the CLEAR street telling us what we could already see by looking out the window--light snow, wet streets.

We went to bed. I was extremely disappointed. To add insult to injury, my wife and I woke up this morning to find that it was NOT SNOWING. And of course the roads were clear and dry. We made the best of the situation by getting dressed and going for a walk out on the beach. It was beautiful. The entire beach was covered in snow. Neither of us had ever seen a beach covered in snow. After our brisk morning walk we came back to our apartment and I decided that I was still going for a run, so I headed back out to the beach.

To further pour salt into the wounds of my disappointing marathon weekend, as I ran down the beach, the cold gray clouds split open and the sun came out. Some blizzard. By the time I got back from the run much of the snow on the beach had melted.

Back at the apartment we packed our things, cutting our weekend short, and hit the road. The last I had heard, the race officials were "evaluating refunds". That's right, they better evaluate refunds. They better evaluate them right back into my bank account. The Sun, in an attempt to make it sound like participants at least got something out of the deal listed these few tidbits:

"All other marathon-week events, including a two-day runners expo Thursday and Friday at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center (which I only attended because I had to, to get my race packet), one-mile Family Fun Run on Friday (didn't participate...came for the marathon), 5-kilometer race on Friday (once again, came for the marathon) a post-race House of Blues party (didn't feel like going and still had to pay $20 so that my wife could go too), and three cycling rides in Conway on Sunday (here for the marathon) have been held or are expected to be held.

This part I love:

"All participants also received a gift bag with apparel and gifts." Ok, you know what? I'll give you back the gift bag and gifts. Just send me back the dough.

Mark Kruea, the city's public information officer writes: "The BI-LO Myrtle Beach Marathon is valued by the entire community, and we do not make this decision lightly."

Well, all the runner's came into town and spent a bunch of money in the off season. City officials made the decision to cancel at 10pm just when it was late enough so that runner's staying in local hotels still had to pay an extra night. What does he care if the thing got canceled? The community got it's "value" out of the marathon.

I understand that "bad" things happen beyond our control. I know that there is a great deal of planning that goes into an event like this and there are a lot of people who are involved. But all the runner's signed a waiver releasing the city from any liability in the event that a car slides off the wet roads and hits someone. What about swimmers at the beach during the summer. Do they sign waivers before getting into the water? Did the city big wigs even go outside to see the roads for themselves? I read some comments left on the Sun website and about 90% of them, including locals, were negative.

I'm really just venting. I'm tired and going to bed. Well hopefully, if I get my money back, I'll use it to enter a different race in the future.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of The Great Blizzard of 2010: Myrtle Beach Marathon.

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