OAKLAND -- More than 8,500 people will run through Oakland streets on Sunday and along the way they'll see some of the city's iconic landmarks -- Lake Merritt, the Tribune Tower, the Mormon Temple and the city's bustling Chinatown.

But the third annual Oakland Running Festival will also give athletes and spectators a chance to see some unique things and hear some unique folks who only come to Oakland once a year -- for the Oakland Running Festival.

"There will be 19 bands, 14 cheering spots and 16 (staffed) water stops and the Crucible's fire arch, where runners can get a sticker that says 'I ran through fire,'" said Race Director Gene Brtalik. "That is one of the highlights for the runners."

In addition to a full 26.2-mile marathon that winds its way through nearly every district in Oakland, there will be a half marathon (13.1 miles), a 5K race, a four-person relay and a kids fun run, which Corrigan Sports Enterprises founder Lee Corrigan will lead.

"It looks like a jail break. You gotta see it," he said, laughing during a morning news conference Thursday.

Since the running festival started in 2010, the event has grown by about 15 percent and for the first time it is starting and ending at Snow Park near Lake Merritt rather than at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza near City Hall. Race organizers moved the races early this year, citing concerns about the Occupy Oakland movement and a need for additional space.


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"We think our move to Snow Park and Lake Merritt from City Hall will highlight the crown jewel of Oakland that serves as the top training grounds for area runners. It will also serve as a natural amphitheater as fans line the lake to cheer on their favorite runners and help propel the entire field to the coveted finish line," Brtalik said.

With the event, there will also be street closures in parts of downtown, the West Oakland, Fruitvale, Rockridge, and Montclair districts and elsewhere. AC Transit bus service will be severely disrupted between 4 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, race organizers and AC Transit officials said. A temporary transit hub will be set up at 14th and Castro streets in Oakland for transferring passengers.

As runners progress through the city, AC Transit will resume service in certain areas after the last participants and clean up crews have passed. AC Transit will have signs directing riders to alternative stops for impacted routes. All freeways will remain open during the races, and BART will not be impacted by course closures.

Race organizers said motorists should use caution and look out for both pedestrians and changes in traffic patterns Sunday. Police will enforce traffic restrictions and vehicles violating those restrictions will be ticketed and/or towed, race organizers said.

Oakland running festival
What: More than 8,500 will be competing in the Oakland Running Festival on Sunday.
Where: Start and finish at Snow Park at 19th and Harrison streets near Lake Merritt.
When: Marathon: 7:30 a.m.; Four-person Relay: 7:30 a.m.; 5K: 7:45 a.m.; Half Marathon: 9:15 a.m.; Kids Fun Run: 9:20 a.m.
Information: For details on the
race, go to www.oaklandmarathon.com; for information about public transportation, and road closures,go to http://www.actransit.org/maps/service_alerts.php.