The first snow storm on the Grand Strand in a decade forced city of Myrtle Beach officials to cancel the 13th annual Bi-Lo Marathon.
Asta tement issued about 10:30 p.m. said: "The city staff has monitored weather conditions and delayed making a decision as long as practical, in hope that the forecast would improve. Unfortunately, the forecast consistently calls for snow accumulations overnight, raising concerns about the safety of all involved in the marathon."
"The BI-LO Myrtle Beach Marathon is valued by the entire community, and we do not make this decision lightly.," the statement said. "We are disappointed by the cancellation, but believe this action is necessary to ensure the safety of our guests, volunteers and staff members."
A decision earlier in the day had already pushed the start of the race back a half hour to 7 a.m., but an outright cancellation was also being considered.
The city took the decision away from the marathon's board of directors.
"It's the board's recommendation that we continue on with the event, but the final say will come down to the city," said marathon president and co-race director Shaun Walsh before the city issued it's decision.
"It's obviously disappointing to see a year's worth of work come down to a snowfall prediction. But we have to respect the city's wishes because they've got to look at the bigger picture in terms of the welfare of the entire city."
Earlier Leath said the city's concerns are for the safety of the 6,600 registered runners with potential passing motorists, the safety of city employees who have to drive to help set up and monitor the race - including police and emergency personnel - and residents who aren't involved in the race.
"The concern we have for the marathon itself is this is not a closed courses," Leath said. "We'll have traffic that runs by the marathoners and through them, not to discount the fact we have to have city workers out in it. We understand there are thousands of runners who want to run it and will be disappointed if they don't, but we have to take everything into consideration."
The marathon board, city officials and a meteorologist initially met Friday at 10:30 a.m. and determined to delay the start of the race a half hour.
The same group, in addition to Myrtle Beach Risk Manager Val Rosser and assistant city manager John Pedersen, met again at 5 p.m., and it was determined that Leath would make the final decision.
Walsh said a significant delay would not have been feasible because it takes six hours to set up the course and city workers and volunteers would still have to be out in inclement weather to do that. He said a postponement to Sunday wasn't possible because many volunteers wouldn't be available and city services would already be expended for scheduled cycling events in Conway.
"Our city is just not equipped to handle snowfall," Walsh said. "If this was a school day there wouldn't be any school tomorrow.