KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Marathon takes off this Saturday, and about 6,000 runners will spread across the city, affecting everywhere from downtown to Ward Parkway to 18th and Vine.

If you’re headed out for a drive, make sure your aware of street closures associated with Kansas City’s largest road race.

Participants continued to pick up their bibs Friday. A steady stream of people entered the building for pick-up. Most of them are competing in the half-marathon, which has about 3,000 entrants.

Although competition will be fierce for first place, FOX4 connected with one runner who knows she’s crossing the finish line last.

When you think of pace runners, you might think of steadiness and consistency. But Scotty Johnson has the role known as “The Sweeper.”

“I am the caboose. I will be the caboose. I feel like ’cause nobody wants to be last, I don’t mind being last,” Johnson said.

“In 2019 in the Kansas City half (marathon), which is a 13.1 miles, I ran 23 miles because I go back and forth to get people in,” he said.

For other pace runners who are spread across the course, they take it easier uphill and push the effort when going downhill.

But the participants spread out, and organizers said that’s not a negative.

“We had an 85-year-old gentleman with a walker who walked our half marathon a couple years ago. So like literally people say I can’t do a half marathon. But if that guy can do it, you can do it,” said Dave Borchardt, race director of the Garmin Kansas City Marathon.

Johnson said he uses one of his unique gifts to push people to the finish line.

“You might not be able to tell but I’ve got the gift of babble,” Johnson said.

“The people in my group usually wish I’d shut up,” he added.

But it’s all in the name of encouragement.

“You want to give so much of yourself, and that’s what all of the pacers do. I’m talking about me because I’m standing here. But every single one of the pacers in the lineup, it’s their goal to see that the runners in their group meets their goal,” Johnson said.

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