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Local businesses cheer on crowds for Myrtle Beach Marathon

Thousands of people came to the Grand Strand this weekend for the 20th annual Myrtle Beach Marathon.

Some runners and spectators came a few days before the race to enjoy the area, or said they're staying a few days after Saturday's big event.

"We are from Rochester, Minnesota. And we left the white snow of Minnesota to come to the white beaches of Myrtle Beach," said Gwen Jacobson, who ran the full marathon.

Gwen Jacobson and fellow runner, Kacey Kuker, are from just one of dozens of states runners are representing. It's their first time to the Myrtle Beach area.

"It's great for the city to have this marathon here and have all of us come here," said Jacobson. "It's just a great place. I would love to come back here and I'm going to tell people about Myrtle Beach because this is an awesome race and an awesome city."

That kind of word of mouth is exactly what local businesses are hoping.

"Gotta love the marathon if you're a business owner in Myrtle Beach," said Matt Duke, who owns Mellow Mushroom, which is located right down the road from the marathon. "Who doesn't want some carbs, little bit of protein if you get the pepperoni once you get finished running 13 or 26 miles."

Duke said business is booming marathon weekend.

"It's huge for us, huge for the staff. We love people coming in and being here for the weekend," said Duke.

It's not just restaurants runners and spectators are checking out while in the area for the event.

"We did escape Atlantis, very fun. Probably going to do some mini golf," said Kuker. "Thinking about a show possibly," added Jacobson. "There's just so much to do," said Kuker.

Most out of town runners are enjoying a few days on the Grand Strand and businesses are going the extra mile cheering on the marathon crowds. The Mellow Mushroom has a sign outside the restaurant welcoming runners.

"This is kind of the kick start for our season. We love our off season because we get to cater to our locals but once the marathon starts running around, especially now that it's in March, we start seeing the marathon weekend, then the next couple weeks college spring breakers then high school spring breakers then before you know it it's June and July," explained Duke.

As runners finish strong - it's the same pace businesses are expecting ahead of the busy summer season.

Around 4,500 runners participated in the half, full and relay marathons. Race organizers partnered with nine local hotels to host runners and spectators.

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