SACRAMENTO - Thousands of runners have been rushing to downtown Sacramento to pick up their race day packets for the 31st annual California International Marathon.

"We have [more] registrants than we've ever had so we've broken that barrier. Now it's how many people actually toe the line. So we're expecting record numbers," said Ellen Moore, executive director of Sacramento Running Association.

Many of those will be first-time marathoners who will experience frigid temperatures at the start of Sunday's race.

"We're really nervous about the cold just because we haven't had any training experience with the cold weather," said Danielle Ritter of Sacramento, who will be attempting her first marathon. "We haven't really had to layer up. We literally went from 70 degrees down to 20s and 30s."

Experts say it doesn't matter if you're a first-timer or an experienced marathoner - the cold snap will make it a challenge.

Weldon Kirui just arrived from Kenya where he's been training for this marathon for the past three months.

"I have already done many marathons in the U.S., but this is my first time in Sacramento," said Kirui.

His goal is to beat his personal best of 2 hours and 9 minutes -- that's when he came in second place at this past year's L.A. marathon.

But medical experts say it's important runners dress in layers and stay hydrated -- even in this cold weather.

""Dehydration signs: felling like your mouth is getting dry, feeling chapped, feeling tired -- all those signs are going to be important," said Dr. Scott Meier, who specializes in sports medicine at Kaiser Permanente in Elk Grove.

He says the best thing to do is dress appropriately for the weather and don't overexert yourself.

Rain or shine, the 26.2 mile race will start Sunday morning in Folsom and end at the State Capitol in downtown Sacramento.

by Carlos Saucedo,