The Cowtown Marathon Expo is now underway at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
Tens of thousands of runners will pass through the expo in order to pick up their T-shirts and racing bibs. They can also buy clothes, sneakers, snacks and other supplies. At the expo, 85 vendors will be on hand to cater to the nearly 30,000 runners expected to take part in this weekend’s races.
“I think that people, as a whole, are trying to be more fit, and they realize this is a great, fun way to do it. We have a distance for everybody,” said race organizer Karen Greenwood.
Cowtown organizers said it is a record-breaking year for them. Last year’s events drew a crowd of about 26,000 participants.
“It is a huge deal. We’re proud of the runners that come to Cowtown and the event we’re able to put on,” Greenwood said.
Organizers believe that after the Dallas Marathon was canceled in December because of the ice storm, the Fort Worth race has pulled in a surge of first-time participants.
Greenwood said she’s hoping to show them a great race so they’ll return next year.
“I think that people in the Metroplex were definitely looking to participate in a race here, and just 30 miles west, we were ready to go. It’s a great course,” Greenwood said.
There are several security changes new for this year’s race, in light of last year’s deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon which killed three people and injured more than 260 people.
Runners can’t bring in their own backpacks or duffel bags to the gear-check area. They must use the clear plastic bags that the Cowtown provides when racers pick up their bibs.
Spectators and family members will be kept at a considerable distance from the starting corral this year. In the past, racers could hug their friends and family right up until the starting gun.
“They will notice some different security changes that we have, but we’ve made them with their safety in mind,” Greenwood said. “We’ve had to take into account what happened at the Boston Marathon and other events. But this should be a smooth weekend and runners will have a great time.”
There will also be dozens of extra police officers on hand, especially at the start and finish lines. There will be more than 250 officers in total lining the course, Greenwood said.
It’s not too late to sign up for a race of any distance, Greenwood said. Online registration is now closed but runners can sign up in person for any race at the expo.
The expo runs until 7 p.m. Friday and is open again on Saturday morning.