Thousands of runners will hit the streets of the capital on Sunday to compete in the 37th edition of the Mexico City Marathon.
The starting gun will sound first for wheelchair racers, who will leave the University Olympic Stadium in the south of the city at 6:45am.
Female athletes will embark on the 42-kilometer route to Mexico City’s central square, the zócalo, five minutes later, while male runners will depart at 7:00am.
For the first time, this year’s marathon has been designated as a Gold Label Status event by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The route will initially see athletes running north on Insurgentes avenue until they reach the World Trade Center after which they will continue through the neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma.
Runners will pass by the Chapultepec castle before reaching Polanco, where they will run down swanky Masaryk avenue and past the visually striking Soumaya museum.
On the home stretch, the 30,000 competitors will be able to admire the Angel of Independence monument on Paseo de la Reforma, the Monument to the Revolution and the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) in Mexico City’s downtown.
Around 200,000 spectators are expected to line the route to cheer on the runners.
Elite athletes participating in Sunday’s marathon will be vying for a 550,000-peso (US $27,700) first prize in both the men’s and women’s events, while each runner-up will pocket 245,000 pesos.
Foreign athletes have dominated the race during the past decade. Runners from Kenya won both the men’s and women’s events last year. The most recent Mexican winner was Karina Pérez, who crossed the finish line first in 2010.
Not all runners, however, take the event seriously. Last year, 36% of runners cheated by not following the correct route.
The British news magazine The Economist reported that the Mexico City Marathon has caused crowding on the city’s subway system in recent years but not only because several major roads are shut down for the event.
“It is also because cheating marathoners have been known to hop on for a quick detour to the finish line,” the report said.
Runners who cheat are doomed to disqualification because they carry electronic chips that are detected by checkpoints along the route.
However, disqualification doesn’t come until days after the race and therefore can’t stop the masquerading marathoners from getting their medal, snapping a triumphant selfie and basking in the crowd’s adulation.
Those found to have cheated this year will be barred from competing in the 2020 marathon and half-marathon.
For people interested in following the action at home, the marathon will be screened on the Claro Sports, Azteca and Capital 21 television stations.