MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Thousands of runners are getting ready to lace up their shoes for the big event this Sunday through the streets of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
For competitors, excitement has been building. Last year, COVID forced the race to go virtual, and this year runners can still expect to see a few safety changes.
"This is what we’re meant to do. This is what we plan for, so it feels good to be back," said Virginia Brophy Achman, the executive director of Twin Cities in Motion.
In many ways, a last leg of a marathon seems the perfect pandemic analogy. The finish line is taking longer to reach than we thought, but it is in sight.
"It feels really, really nice. I keep joking that I have a "perma-grin" that no one can see today," Virginia said.
Runners flow into St. Paul’s RiverCentre to pick up race packets, though they're still required to wear masks inside and before and after the races.
"I don’t mind wearing a mask and once we’re out there running we’ll be fine, so it’ll be good," runner Bonnie Ohm said.
Even with reduced numbers, it feels good to resume.
"Even at half capacity, even with the uncertainty, it was just comforting to know we were planning and moving forward… and bringing people together to cheer, volunteer and run is still normal," Virginia said.
And out on the course, dubbed the most beautiful in America, is another story of triumphant return.
Tyler Moon suffered a sudden cardiac arrest running the 10-mile race in 2019. He was saved by other runners.
"Coming back here and running the same race and the same course, it’ll definitely be emotional," Tyler said.
Now with an implanted defibrillator, he’s back to do what’s called the Loony Challenge, both the 5K and 10K on Saturday and then the 10-mile on Sunday.
"Tomorrow on the starting line and while you’re running, it’ll be really encouraging to be with everybody else and cheer each other on and hear the cheers from other people," Tyler said.
Sunday’s start line at U.S. Bank Stadium punctuates the return. The marathon is in the morning, then a full house for a Vikings game at noon.
"And we’re going to be excited for next year to hopefully get back to full capacity, but we’re all very grateful for this opportunity this year," Virginia said.