Many of the early morning participants took part in a "Stretch and Shake" event to various tunes before taking their place at the starting line for the race at Justin Herman Plaza.
Participating in the race, for some, is a family affair; for others it's a group project in celebration of a loved one. But for everyone, the fight to eradicate cancer is their singular goal.
"Everybody that's involved in our team has been touched by cancer in some way," said Lisa Lee.
Lee is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She is also the top fundraiser for Sunday's race, pulling in thousands of dollars for the benefit without any corporate sponsorship.
Lee says that thought of turning inward upon receiving her diagnosis was never an option.
"It was more important for me to take on this fight," Lee said. "It was more important for me to see that no one else walked down this road."
Since 1983, the race has grown from a local one with 800 participants to a global event with more than 120 affiliated races across the globe.
Judy Pickett was the winner in the "Survivors" category and makes participating in the race a way to celebrate and share her own story.
"I was 33 when I was diagnosed," said Pickett. "I didn't have a very good prognosis, and here I am 15 years later still running with a broken arm."
Organizers are predicting that next year's race will be even bigger, and you can bet that Lee will be there to give out even more hugs to the participants.