MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of runners are getting ready for the “most beautiful urban marathon in America.”

The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon starts Sunday morning. The course takes runners from the U.S. Bank Stadium site in downtown Minneapolis to the State Capitol in St. Paul.

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More than 30,000 people plan to take part in the races and family events this weekend.

Runners filed into the St. Paul RiverCentre for the Health and Fitness Expo Friday afternoon to pick up their race packets and make last-minute preparations for race day.

Marathon organizers say 80 percent of race participants are from Minnesota, and 60 percent of that group is from the Twin Cities metro area.

Some are among the most elite runners from around the world. Kenyan-born Dominic Ondoro holds the Grandma’s Marathon record of two hours, nine minutes and six seconds.

Ondoro participated in a panel discussion at the expo where he announced he plans to beat the Twin Cities Marathon record set in 1985 of two hour, 10 minutes and five seconds.

But every runner knows a lot about testing his or her own limits. First-time marathoner David Baker’s route in life has been filled with obstacles.


He says he moved into a Minneapolis shelter when he lost his job just over a year ago.

“It’s going to be an incredible battle just to get across the finish line,” Baker said.

He credits the group Mile In My Shoes for giving him and other homeless people the tools to train for the race.

He has been training for more than a year, despite being recently diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a rare neurological degenerative disorder.

“I like to say to people that you have to rally to whatever your given situation is,” Baker said.

Each runner’s pace may vary, but every single one of them hopes to exceed his or her own expectations.

“The mental toughness in me, you know, I’m willing to like have my feet fall off,” Baker said. “Even stumps across the finish line.”

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The Health and Fitness Expo runs Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7p.m.