MINNEAPOLIS — Maria Kathol will make her debut this weekend at Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, as she prepares to run the vaunted "Loony Challenge."
That's 19.2 miles over two days.
"I'm ready as I can be! Regardless of how I do, I'm going to have a blast," Kathol said, before picking up her race packet at the Saint Paul RiverCentre on Friday. "I love running, and I love being active, so it'll be great."
That positive energy radiated throughout the RiverCentre, ahead of a jam-packed weekend of marathon events.
"It's race season," said Daniel Lyrek, who will be running the full 26.2 miles Sunday. "I think this whole summer has felt a little different coming into the fall. Hoping for the energy to get back a little bit."
Based on registration numbers, it's fair to say that the Twin Cities Marathon has returned to full strength in 2022. Organizers expect more than 26,000 people to participate in events this weekend, topping the 2019 pre-pandemic number. That includes nearly 9,000 people running the marathon and more than 11,000 people running the 10-mile race.
"We're excited about the mood, excited about how many people are here," Twin Cities in Motion Communications Manager Charlie Mahler said. "We hope we'll keep that momentum going throughout the weekend."
It's been a long road back to normalcy for the Twin Cities Marathon, which canceled in-person events in 2020 and scaled back the fields to half capacity in 2021.
"I'm excited for things to be back. I tried doing some things virtual but it wasn't my cup of tea," Kathol said. "And the fans as well. "The fans along the streets really get you moving, and it gives you that level of excitement to keep you going when you want to stop, maybe!"
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