OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Runners from across the country and globe are set to take center stage for the Memorial Marathon. The health and fitness expo at the OKC Convention Center downtown kicked things off Friday morning for race weekend.

Health and Fitness Expo. Image KFOR.
Health and Fitness Expo. Image KFOR.

Runners filed in by the thousands to pick up their race packets. The memorial marathon runs through three cities in the metro. Those cities are Nichols Hills, The Village and Oklahoma City.

“I’m really grateful for what the memorial marathon represents for our city,” said Craig Freeman. City Manager for Oklahoma City.

“This is just a wonderful reminder of the resiliency of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City metro and Oklahoma in general,” said The Village City Manager Dave Slezickey. “Rising out of tragedy and continuing hope for the future and hope for tomorrow.”

Over 18,500 runners from across all 50 states and 17 countries will be taking on the 26.2-mile trek and other races over the weekend. That’s 5,000 more than this time last year. One of those runners is Giovanni Negron-Garcia. He came all the way from Pennsylvania to take part.

“I heard great things about Oklahoma City and the marathon overall, so I said it’s my time just to come down and visit the great city,” he said.

He’s only run in one other marathon in Memphis, Tennessee. While he may not be from here, he said he still understands the significance of what’s taking place over the weekend.

“It’s a great marathon to run and I think it’s just honoring those victims who suffered and those families and just bringing honor to them,” he said.

The expo downtown will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Things get going Saturday as well with the 5k at 7 a.m. That’s before the inaugural senior marathon at 8 a.m. and kids’ marathon at 9 a.m. The relay, half and full marathon will be Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m.