Thirty minutes after sunrise this morning, the continuous pitter-patter of running shoes on asphalt will fill a 13.1-mile path from Old Settler's Park in Burlington to Minot's Oak Park for the Burli-Mot Half Marathon.
Race organizers expect more than 300 participants from across the Midwest and Canada, and one from Biloxi, Miss.
Reigning champion Kyle Strudefant, a 21-year-old from Minot Air Force Base, will attempt to defend his crown. Last year's runner-up, Williston's Mark Amondson, will also compete.
"I was a little disappointed with how it ended up last year, so I plan on running my best and running my own race," said the 30-year-old Amondson.
After exchanging the lead multiple times during the 2012 Burli-Mot, Strudefant passed Amondson with a mile to go and bested him by seven seconds.
"Oh, he'll probably want to beat me," Strudefant said with a laugh.
The course - the same as last year - will feature an out-and-back on the gravel of 87th Street and then remain mostly on a bike path. Relatively flat for the majority of the race, the path climbs for about a quarter-mile beginning at mile 10 before finishing in Oak Park, where a celebration with a DJ and an awards ceremony will await.
Along with traditional half-marathoners, the race will include relay teams of four runners that will complete the course in segments of various lengths.
Amondson expects warm, but comfortable conditions.
"It's a good start (7:30 a.m.), so I don't think it should be too bad," he said. "We've all been running in 90-degree weather for the past couple weeks, so I definitely don't think the wind or weather is going to be a problem. It should be a pretty nice day. I'm glad it's starting early."
Strudefant and Amondson both hope to finish in under 1 hour, 14 minutes, but they are looking forward to the race for different reasons.
Strudefant, who has completed six marathons and two half-marathons, said it's "a good tune-up race" for the Minot Air Force Base's marathon next month.
Amondson runs two marathons a year and travels extensively to compete. He participated in the Boston Marathon in April and will compete in the Rock 'n' Roll Phildelphia Half Marathon on Sept. 15 and the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13. He said he's excited to race locally.
"I really enjoy supporting the local events when I can," Amondson said. "(The Burli-Mot) is the best put on race I've done in North Dakota. I was more impressed with it than Bismarck's marathon last year."
Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignment. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgrenMDN.