MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After fully virtual races last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the St. Jude Marathon made its return to downtown Memphis.
Runners and spectators filled the streets early Saturday morning as the event celebrated its 20th year.
About 20,000 people from across the world came together to run, walk and fundraise for the hospital. Organizers said participants came from all 50 states and 72 countries and included 5,151 St. Jude Heroes who have raised more than $12 million.
Jessica Hooke, a three-year St. Jude Hero originally from Memphis, traveled from Florida for this year's race. Last year, she walked all four races despite hip injuries that prevented her from running.
"It's for the children," Hooke said. "I think St. Jude is an amazing organization. I have a strong tie to Memphis. I've heard the stories and when I hear the stories, there's always a tear that comes with it. Any way I can support, I'm here for it."
Several of those Heroes have run every year since the race's first year with fewer than 3,000 participants.
Race weekend has become the largest single-day fundraising event for St. Jude.