WATCH LIVE: Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle Steps Off

NOTE: Watch the start and finish line cameras right here beginning at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

Thousands of runners will celebrate the unofficial start of outdoor running season this weekend at the 2019 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K race.

The 40th annual Shamrock Shuffle steps off at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday in Grant Park, taking participants on a grand tour of downtown Chicago and back to Grant Park. The second wave of the race starts at 9 a.m., and the 2-mile lakefront walk starts at 9:30 a.m.

A post-race party kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday at Scout Waterhouse and Kitchen in the South Loop.

You'll see some notable names leading off the race this year, including Olympian and American record-holder Deena Kastor, who won the 2005 and 2009 Shamrock Shuffle, and 2015 and 2016 champion Alexi Pappas.

The duo are part of the Mammoth Track Club, which is making its debut in the Deloitte Elite Club Competition. The Kansas City Smoke will also return on the men's side to defend their title. 

Carey Pinkowski, the race's executive director, joins runners this year to help raise money for youth-based initiatives. 

Last year Pinkowski raised $20,226 for the American Cancer Society. This year, he hopes to double that and raise $40,000 in honor of the race's 40 years for Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, After School Matters, Special Olympics Chicago and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

"The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle underscores the spirit and diversity of Chicago’s running community, a community that has helped us build an iconic event like the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and a global phenomenon like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon," said Pinkowski. "And with the ongoing growth and development of our charity programs, these events have continually given back to communities across the world. It is an honor this year to run on behalf of four organizations making a profound difference in the lives of Chicagoans."

And you can't forget the race's unofficial mascots, "The Green Guys." In honor of the Shuffle's 40th year, they took off their costumes to tell NBC 5 the story of how the group got its start.

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