And they're off

The 10th annual Under Armour Baltimore Marathon has begun in cool temperature under sunny skies.

Nearly 5,000 runners began to cross the starting line at Russell and Camden Streets at 8:01 a.m. Saturday, embarking on the 26.2-mile course that will take a serpentine route through city neighborhoods. The course remains the same for a second consecutive year.

Event organizers have sold out all four of its races for a fourth consecutive year, and are expecting a record 22,281 runners representing 25 countries and all 50 states to run the streets before the finish line closes at approximately 3 p.m.

This year's purse of $140,000 places Baltimore among the top 10 most lucrative marathons in the country. First place male and female finishers in the full marathon will be awarded $23,000, while up to $2,500 in bonus money could be disbursed for record-breaking performances.

Kenyan runners Alfonsi Yatich and Julius Keter are among the favorites on the men's side. Yatich, 26, won the race last year and Keter, 21, set the event record in 2008, finishing in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 56 seconds.

Iuliia Arkipova of Kyrgyzstan finished first among the women in last year's race with a time of 2:32:09.

The CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Half-Marathon will start at the intersection of Conway and Light Streets at 9:45 a.m.

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