More than 6,000 people ran through Fresno and Clovis competing against others as the sun came up over Fresno's Woodward Park. Runners spent their final stationary moments preparing physically and mentally for the challenges ahead.
Then - an air horn marked the beginning of a 26 mile journey from Fresno to Clovis -- and back.
All along the way, friends and family members lined the streets offering encouragement.
"All of our kids are here. We got 10 grandkids in town. We're all here together," Rodney Brown said.
"Keep it up, you guys!"
Throughout the course water stations offered refreshment and in some parts live music provided a welcome distraction.
The Eye Q Two Cities Marathon is now in its third year.
While a new pedestrian underpass kept traffic on Willow Avenue moving, the massive event still required some road closures and detours for motorists but with less congestion than in years past.
"The police and volunteers have learned a lot on how to control traffic, how to set up the alternate routes so they flow smoothly... that's helped quite a bit," Course Director Sherrie Flynn said.
Since its start the race has more than doubled in size.
This year, more than 6,000 people accepted the challenge of running a marathon, half marathon, or this year's first ever ultra marathon, a whopping 31 miles. Any one of them -- quite an undertaking.
"Had a good time, but I'm hungry now," Alan Ruperto of San Francisco said.
Emotions at the finish line ran all over the spectrum from feelings of accomplishment to disappointment.
"You never know how these things are going to work. You might wake up feeling like a million dollars and no bank," Elisa Marie Angulo of Fresno said.
But make no mistake about it runners and their loved ones know just getting across the finish line is an achievement.
And that is definitely something to cheer about!