AKRON, Ohio-- The runners and their city are ready for the Akron Marathon.
Come downtown early Saturday and you'll find more than 100,000 spectators and increased levels of security along 26 miles of raceway.
"I drive through the city of Akron and all I see are blue lines, and I'm just thinking to myself, in two days, I'm going to be on that blue line," said Jasmyne Anderson, who is running her first half-marathon in Akron.
The Akron Marathon is now in its 11th year and this year, things will look different.
"With the recent events in Boston, we had to take another look at safety," said Capt. Daniel Zampelli, with the Akron Police Department. "Not only do we want to make sure that people are safe, we want that feeling of safety."
To protect everyone in Akron, backpacks are discouraged and bag searches and patdowns can happen in all race areas and spectator spots, such asat Canal Park's finish line.
And as always, police stressthat if you see something, say something.
"We've reallocated resources so that throughout the whole course, you shouldn't have to look far to find either a police officer, a volunteer, or someone that's part of the marathon itself," said Zampelli.
Also The Start Line and Finish Line will have athlete-only areas, meaning there's no family run-in at the finish.Only runners will be allowed along the course.
At least 15,000 will run the sold out marathon and half or five-man relay.
"Pretty much everybody from the top down really supports this race," said Brian Polen, the race director. "When you jump in the race, either as a spectator or volunteer or race, you feel it. There's no doubt."
For Stephanie Leonardi, it's about coming full circle. After she finished her first marathon in Akron last year, she went on to battle double pneumonia that caused her to be put in an induced coma for three weeks.
The illness zapped her strength and balance. Now, afterlots of training,she will follow four friends to cross the finish line again.
"We joke about practicing the hand off," said Kara Ulmer, who is running the fourth leg before "Leo" finishes for her team.
"You can get knocked down, it's getting back up that really matters, so , finishing is like proof of that," said Leonardi.
Polen says hisbest advice is travel lightly, bringing only what you need, andarrive early. Before 6 a.m. and you're almost guaranteed to pull right into a parking place. After that, you're part of the crowd.