Myrtle Beach Marathon Notes: Superman’s streak still intact

 Myrtle Beach Marathon Notes: Superman’s streak still intact


Just a few moments after crossing the finish line in about 5 ½ hours, Jose Santos told a race official to sign him up for next year.

Santos is still perfect, and next year he will celebrate his silver anniversary in the Myrtle Beach Marathon.

Santos, 65, of the Charlotte suburb of Mint Hill, N.C., has completed each and every Myrtle Beach race since its inception in 1998, and he’ll hit 25 consecutive years in 2022.

“I want to be one of the first ones to sign up just like last year,” Santos said.

Santos has now run in 124 marathons.

He is easily identifiable on the course because he races in a Superman costume that has become increasingly more complete in the past few years. He’s had the shorts and several shirts for awhile, and has added a Superman cape and socks in recent years. He has accessorized further over the past year with the DC Comics superhero mask since the onset of the coronavirus.

“Each year it gets bigger and bigger,” Santos said. “Everybody likes it. We just won’t let Superman die. People pay attention to you a little bit more when you’re dressed up like this.”

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Jose Santos, dressed in his Superman cape, has run in all 24 Myrtle Beach Marathons. The 2021 Myrtle Beach Marathon was held Saturday with several COVID safety precautions in place. Myrtle Beach hosted approximately 3,000 runners in full marathon, half marathon and 5-kilometer races. May 1, 2021. JASON LEE

No shoes, no problem

David Tillman isn’t a big fan of the pavement on the roads in Myrtle Beach.

So he looked to get out of car lanes Saturday during the half marathon. “The pavement here is not the greatest so I spent a lot of time on the paint and sidewalks when I could,” Tillman said.

The public health professor at Campbell University and Buies Creek, N.C., resident ran the 13.1 miles as he always does – barefoot.

“It makes me feel like a kid, so I kick off the shoes and go for it,” said Tillman, who finished in about 2:04. “I ran a marathon distance for the first time on Halloween of [2020] and I’ve run several halves. I love it.” He became familiar with some runners going without shoes about a decade ago when he read the book “Born To Run.”

“I ditched the shoes after that. You just have to build up endurance,” Tillman said. “There are a few barefoot runners but I don’t know too many. I’ve never run with another barefoot runner.”

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David Tillman of Buies Creek, N.C., ran Saturday’s half marathon in Myrtle Beach barefoot. Alan Blondin ablondin@thesunnews.com

He says his feet “do alright. They feel great. When you run barefoot it corrects your stride. You can’t run badly. It would hurt too much, so you run correctly. It keeps you up on the balls of your feet. If you do heel [strikes] in shoes it doesn’t hurt but it will mess up your joints over time.”

Perhaps the best thing about running barefoot in the Myrtle Beach race? He ran in swim trunks and a T-shirt. “I’m dressed for a day at the beach,” he said.

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David Tillman of Buies Creek, N.C., ran Saturday’s half marathon in Myrtle Beach barefoot. “It makes me feel like a kid, so I kick off the shoes and go for it,” he said. Alan Blondin ablondin@thesunnews.com

A Timberlake tune to victory

At times during the race it was country, at other times it was rap and alternative rock.

But when Kelli Proctor needed a final push to the finish line she went with Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” from the soundtrack of the animated “Trolls” movie.

Proctor, of Erie, Pennsylvania, won the women’s portion of the marathon and resorted to music in her headphones whenever she felt she needed to refocus.

The high school special education teacher won in her first appearance in the 24-year race, finishing in a personal-best time of 2:52:44.

“I don’t listen to music the whole time,” Proctor said. “When I start to lose focus, when I start noticing the pain it’s like, ‘OK, we need something here.’ I just think it keeps your mind busy. It’s just a nice distraction.”

The win is Proctor’s second in a marathon, joining one at the Coastal Delaware Running Festival in Rehoboth, Del. The 43-year-old said her results are getting better with age.

“Believe it or not the older I get the better they’re getting,” Proctor said. “I think it’s a little experience and finally letting myself not be afraid to get uncomfortable, so they’re getting better.

“It’s just knowing it’s going to hurt and just accept it and go with it and just know for the next couple days it’s going to feel a little crummy but it’s all worth it. Just keep pushing, just keep looking at the people in front of you and try to find a couple good tunes to listen to.”

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Kelli Proctor of Erie, Pennsylvania, won the women’s portion of the Myrtle Beach Marathon on Saturday. Alan Blondin ablondin@thesunnews.com

Missed it by that much

Shawanna White of Columbia entered Saturday’s women’s half marathon with a couple goals. She wanted to win, and she accomplished that by 16 seconds over the runner-up with a time of 1:21:13.9.

In addition, the 41-year-old K-8 physical education teacher wanted to set the state record for her age group – age 40-44 – which is 1:21:13. She assumes her time will be rounded up, so at the conclusion of 13.1 miles it appears she may have come less than one second shy of matching the record.

“I don’t think I got it. I should have kicked harder,” White said.

White, the reigning USA Track & Field (USATF) South Carolina Masters Runner of the Year, was on pace to run a personal best before the headwind on the long stretch of the course along the ocean knocked her pace back.

“I really lost it. I slowed down a lot,” she said. “But I’m still happy with the win.”

She plans to run in the Chicago Marathon in October and hopes to post a personal best time in the full 26.2 miles.

White said she attempted in 2018 to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials at the One City Marathon in Newport News, Va., which required a 2:45 or less, and she came up 19 seconds short. The Olympic trials time for women has since be lowered to 2:29:30.

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Shawanna White of Columbia won the women’s half marathon in Myrtle Beach on Saturday. Alan Blondin ablondin@thesunnews.com

Accumulating wins at the beach

Brett Morley of Greenville is accustomed to winning in Myrtle Beach.

Though this was his first Myrtle Beach Marathon, he was previously run in the Myrtle Beach Mini-Marathon in the fall and won that half marathon three consecutive years.

So his win in Saturday’s half marathon by nearly three minutes in a time of 1:10:03 was no surprise.

His in-laws live in Conway so he regularly makes short vacations out of his races.

The Landrum native ran in college at Spartanburg Methodist and North Greenville, and has gravitated toward longer distances as he ages. He has run about six marathons and won a pair of them – the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans and Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio marathons.

“I’m 29, and as I’ve aged I’ve gotten a little slower so I’ve [focused] on the longer stuff and I’ve won a couple,” said Morley, an elementary school teacher and high school track & field and cross country coach. “With everything going on it’s been hard to get into marathons, but we’ll half it a little bit.”

Morley said he was on pace to set a personal best before reaching Ocean Boulevard. “I was on pace to finish around 1:07 but once we turned against the ocean that wind was brutal,” he said.

He has run a 2:26 marathon and hopes to work his way down to the Olympic trials men’s qualifying time of 2:11:30. “We’re just trying to inch our way closer to it,” Morley said.

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A group of runners pass a largely empty boardwalk on Ocean Boulevard. After being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 the Myrtle Beach Marathon was held Saturday, May 1, 2021 with new safety precautions. Myrtle Beach hosted approximately 4,000 runners in full marathon, half marathon and 5-kilometer races. May 1, 2021. JASON LEE

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Alan Blondin covers golf, Coastal Carolina university and athletics, and numerous other sports-related topics that warrant coverage. Well-versed in all things Myrtle Beach, Horry County and the Grand Strand, the 1992 Northeastern University journalism school valedictorian has been a reporter at The Sun News since 1993 after working at papers in Texas and Massachusetts. He has earned eight top-10 Associated Press Sports Editors national writing awards and 20 top-three S.C. Press Association writing awards since 2007.





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