Mississippi's soulful sound is taking center stage this weekend during the 6th annual Mississippi Blues Marathon and Half-Marathon.
Runners picked up their race packets Friday afternoon during the race expo.
"We plan the next year what are some of the races that we plan to do. We like to go to different places that we haven't been," said competitor Maria Shircel.
Many blues runners are in Jackson for the first time. They live outside the state and compete in several races each year. Going from city to city across the country can get expensive.
"If you travel with somebody it kind of cuts those costs in half, and we also try to find races where we have someone, friends that stay where we don't have to pay for the hotel room. It helps to be reward customers like at the Marriott," explained Jackson State University alum and Alabama resident Freida Dale.
The competitive marathoners also find a way to lace up and save.
"One thing I decided to do was save a dollar for every mile that I run in training, as like kind of an incentive to run more but also start a savings fund," said Blues runner and Columbia, South Carolina resident Danielle Hastings.
Many participants register early and look for coupons to upcoming events to race for a discount. Despite those cost saving measures, athletes still spend extra cash.
Many of the 3,000 runners, who are from 47 states and 11 countries, are staying in Jackson area hotels and eating at restaurants.
After the race, the city of Jackson will be doing anything but singing the blues.
The marathon is expected to have more than a $1 million economic impact on the city.
The race is more than a competition or health and wellness challenge. Many see it as part of the state's creative economy, showcasing its best sound.
"When you have runners coming from Iceland, from Switzerland, from England to Canada, they may not be coming to run here because it's the greatest course in the world; they're coming here because the Blues are huge. This is the birthplace of America's music," said Director of Corporate Communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi John Sewell.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi is the main sponsor for the marathon.
A $30,000 purse prize awaits the winners of the race. Proceeds will benefit the Mississippi Blues Foundation's Musicians Benevolence Fund.
Marathoning has seen an explosion in popularity, giving runners a chance to lace up and explore new cities, but the race becomes more of an experience.
"I don't usually get a good time but I always have a good time," Hastings said when asked about her expectations.
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