Participants in Sunday's Two Cities Marathon & Half must give a lot to finish either the 26.2- or 13.1-mile courses.
For that effort and sweat, they also get a lot for their entry fee.
Personalized race bibs, long-sleeved technical shirts, finisher's medallions and sweat shirts, hot breakfasts, ice cream sundaes and, let's not forget, free massages and beer are just a few of the amenities that have made the race so popular.
"We do give out a lot of cool swag," race co-director Debra Schmitt said.
So much of it, in fact, that Runner's World magazine recognized the Two Cities Marathon & Half for having the "Best Swag" in its October 2012 issue.
That's quite an honor for a community-based event that has swelled to 6,000 participants in recent years with more than 75% of them hailing from Fresno, Clovis, Visalia and neighboring communities.
The Two Cities Marathon & Half began 11 years ago as a 13.1-mile race. This is the fifth year since organizers added the full 26.2-mile distance in 2008.
Several streets around Woodward Park, including portions of Audubon Drive, Friant Road, Shepherd Avenue and Old Town Clovis, will be closed Sunday morning during the event. (See the accompanying map or go to runfresno.com for a full list of road closures and alternative routes.)
This year's course is substantially the same as last year's with the only change being the location of the Clovis half marathon. That race, just like the full marathon and the Fresno half, will begin on Friant just north of Audubon and finish inside Woodward Park.
"They all end at the same place," Schmitt said. "Logistically, we've created ourselves a real challenge."
Total prize money for this year has been increased to $13,000. Of that, $7,000 will be allocated to the marathon, $3,000 to the Clovis half and $1,500 apiece to the Fresno half and the team relay.
Heading the list of elite runners is defending women's marathon champion Maria Rivera of Visalia. She is aiming to break the course record of 3 hours, 22 seconds. Two-time men's marathon winner Jesus Campos of Fresno will vie for his third title against a field that includes last year's second-place finisher, Jae Yang Hyung of Albuquerque, and third-place finisher Ivan Medina of Hayward.
"It won't be easy, but I'm confident I can go under 3 hours," said Rivera, who ran 3:03:25 last year.
Space is still available for the marathon and both half marathons, though the Clovis half has fewer than 100 spots left, Schmitt said.
Several athletes planning to run in Sunday's New York City Marathon will run in Fresno instead because of problems traveling to the East Coast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
"People are saying, 'I can't run New York this weekend, so can I come to your race?' " Schmitt said. "We'll make room for them. They're passionate about running, so we'll make it work."
Sign-ups continue through 4 p.m. Saturday at the event's Health & Fitness Expo at Chukchansi Park. There is no registration on race day.