THOUSANDS of running enthusiasts troop to the Lake Drive along Burnham Park this Sunday as Baguio City kicks off the 38th Milo National Marathon.

Foot racers from the Summer Capital and Benguet, including sport buffs from neighboring provinces will test their speed and endurance anew as the first of 18 other leg races hype up north.

Organizers of the 38th Milo National Marathon expects close to 2,000 runners in attendance, with the Run Rio outfit again consolidating the event.

In 2012, the longest and largest foot race in the country reached more than 5,000 registered runners in Baguio City alone.

Race events to be competed will include distances of 21, 10, 5, and 3-kilometer contest.

The internationally recognized marathon is expected to draw young and old running enthusiasts to join the 21K division in attempt to qualify for the national finals.

Despite stricter rules in this year’s instalment such as providing medical certificates for 21K runners, locals continue to have a high regard for the nearly four decade old running occasion.

Top male and female finishers in the 21-kilometer event will be joining other leg qualifiers in an all-expense paid trip in the upcoming national finals slated December later this year at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay, Manila.

The national champions will get chance to represent the country in the upcoming 2015 Tokyo Marathon February next year.

Since 2010, part of the registration fees was subsidiary to Milo Marathon’s “Help Give a Pair of Shoe” program, where rubber shoes were given free to randomly picked public schools.

This year, Milo is eyeing more than 50,000 pairs of shoes and has chosen Yolanda devastated areas as its beneficiary.

Apart from the scheduled foot race, side events will also be included providing more chances of winning to the local runners.

Milo included in its side contest the biggest company delegation, inter-company running competition, biggest school delegation, inter-school running competition, and cheer dance competition.

After the Baguio leg, other Milo qualifying races will be held in Dagupan, Tarlac, Angeles, Manila, Naga, Lucena, Puerto Princesa, Lipa, Iloilo, Bacolod, Tagbilaran, Cebu, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Davao.

The Milo Marathon has been accredited by the Association of International Marathon and Distance Race (AIMS), and the race route certified by the International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAFS), organized in Partnership with the Philippine Olympic Committee-Philippine Sports Committee, and Department of Education.