CLEVELAND - This weekend's Cleveland Marathon is expected to draw more runners than ever before and bring in more than $18 million for the city's economic development, according to the event's organizers.
"Cleveland is really a popular city for running," said Jack Staph, director of the Cleveland Marathon. "The course is flat and fast."
Staph said 22,000 runners are set to run the 5K, 10K, half marathon or full marathon, which is 2,000 more than last year. The race starts and ends at First Energy Stadium and snakes through Ohio City, Tremont and downtown.
"Running is exploding," he said. "A lot of women are running more than usual."
"Nervous and excited," said Rachael Sommer who was describing how she feels ahead of running the marathon Sunday.
A marathon is classified as running 26.2 miles; a half marathon is 13.1 miles, 10K is 6.2 miles and a 5K is 3.1 miles.
Sommer said she's been training since January, running multiple times a week. Her longest run so far has been 19 miles.
"It'll be great to run in the neighborhoods that I work in everyday and to see all my friends and family," said Sommers who works for Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman.
Marathon organizers said the security of all participants will be paramount in light of the bombs that exploded at last month's Boston Marathon, which injured more than 150 people and killed three.
"There will be a lot of security coming from the Cleveland Police Department, the sheriff's department, Homeland Security and the FBI," Staph said.
Trash bins will also be examined prior and monitored during the race.
Spectators and runners will be discouraged from carrying any backpacks or large bags, especially at the finish line. Runners will be given clear plastic bags for their belongings.
Marathon organizers also said there will be spray stations to keep runners cool. Sunday's forecast calls for 75 degrees and sun.
"I'll be able to get one of those 26.2 stickers on the back of my car," said Sommer who added that she's eager to accomplish her longtime goal of running a marathon.
The half marathon and full marathon starts at 7 a.m. Sunday although runners are encouraged to arrive by 6 a.m. The 10K begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. On Saturday, the 5K takes place at 8 a.m., and the kids' run is at 11 a.m.