San Francisco runners prepare for marathon

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The 38th running of the San Francisco Marathon is bringing a record number of registrants into the city this weekend.

At the starting line on the Embarcadero at Mission Street, signs and fencing were already up Friday night.

The race takes marathon runners on a course past Fisherman's Wharf, up to the Golden Gate Bridge and through Golden Gate Park.

"Running across the Golden Gate Bridge, who can beat that?" said Alex Ho, an ultra-marathoner who has completed the double course in the past.  

Registration at the Race Expo in Fort Mason opened Friday as people came in to pick up their race packets and t-shirts.

"My first marathon so I'm terrified and excited," laughed Catherine Meredith of Denver who was meeting up with a childhood friend to run the race.

First timers also picked up running tips.

"It's exciting I had a chance to talk to some seasoned runners and they gave me some good pointers on what to do and what not to do," said Rohit Lal of Fairfield who was preparing for his very first 5k run.

For elite runners, the marathon, for the first time, will be a qualifying race for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

There will also be family friendly options.

Michelle LaFrance, SF Marathon Spokeswoman said, "We added a stroller division, and we have a bunch of people who are going to be running for the first time ever with their kids in tow along the Embarcadero," said Michelle LaFrance, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Marathon.

There also will be new technology, with many runners using devices such as Fitbits and the Marathon's brand new race app.

"They've got a map section where they show you the race, where the drink stations are," said Jeff Dillen of Houston.

Spectators can track runners in real time and increasingly, runners are using technology to keep on track.

"It's constant feedback for you, letting you know what your heartrate is, how far you've gone, how far you have left to go," Dillen said.

Every runner in this race has their own reason that brings them here and keeps them going.

"I used to find it really boring and laborious and I grew up with sports-induced asthma that apparently wore off so running became more of a meditation for me," said Ho.

For Lauren Brady, who flew in from New York for her second marathon, her love of running all started with a loss.

"I originally wanted to run the New York City Marathon in memory of my dad who passed away from ALS, so that kind of my initial motivation," Brady said, "but the training I think is the most exciting part for me, just kind of seeing the progression that you make over the course of four months. So that's kind of why I do it. It's not the race itself, it's the training."

The marathon will also be live-streamed this year at so people anywhere around the world can go online and watch the race.

And for so many runners on Sunday, it is the journey that matters, just as much as crossing the finish line.