RICHMOND, Va. -- With less than 24 hours until they hit the course, runners came to the Richmond Raceway on Friday to pick up their bibs and shirts for Saturday's Richmond marathon.
"We were super excited that they were going to be back live this year," Lynn Graham, one runner, said.
The race will be returning somewhat to normal after it was pushed to go virtual last year due to the pandemic. Last year's event was spread out over 16 days in Dorey Park, an experience that runners say can't compete with the real thing.
"It was running through the trails, not a lot of crowd support. It made me really appreciate the water stops and the crowds and everything of the actual marathon," Austin Curry, another runner, said.
"You're by yourself and it's pretty much you against the clock unless you bring people with you and when you have a big group it's a lot more motivating," added Glenn Bennett.
Race organizers expect over 14,000 runners in either the marathon, half-marathon or 8K. While runners will be back on the streets of Richmond, there are still some COVID precautions in place, such as masks for water volunteers.
"We're all used to what we've been dealing with it for a while now. So it's just part of being able to put on events like this," Pete Woody, the communications manager for Sports Backers, said.
As runners return to the roads, Richmond will see road closures around the city. Those closures started Thursday morning and some will run until Saturday evening.
One runner will be tying her shoes before tying the knot on Saturday afternoon.
"I'm running the Richmond half-marathon, which is my favorite race of all time, and then I'm getting married in the afternoon," Curry said.
Curry said that the wedding date was picked first. However, when the marathon was announced, she had to make both work and her fiancé will be there to cheer her on.
Even after 13.1 miles, she's not worried about a few more feet down the aisle.
"Yeah, I'm going to have one parent on one side, one on the other and it'll be good," Curry said.
Unfortunately, runners will not be getting the medals they normally would after finishing. Organizers said that despite placing their order earlier than normal, they won't make it in time.
They will still have hats and blankets to hand out and plan to ship the medals to runners when they arrive.