ST. CLOUD -- Over 2,000 of the fittest athletes in the world are coming to St. Cloud this weekend. The 8th annual Granite Games kicks off on Thursday night and runs through Sunday.

CEO John Swanson says both pros and amateurs had to qualify at their local competitions to be able to make it to St. Cloud.

Athletes as young as 13 to 65 years old, from 30 countries total represented.  We started with 20,000 athletes worldwide and now we're down to the top remaining athletes.  So it's pretty special for those who made it in.

Swanson says most of the competition will be held at St. Cloud State University's Husky Stadium, Hallenbeck Hall, and the Fieldhouse, but there are also events at Warner Lake and Powder Ridge.

Swanson says this is the largest event of its kind in the world.

New events this year are a 5K and a half-marathon on Saturday, which are open to anyone to enter.

If you run the half or the 5K you get a ticket into the event.  It's a pretty neat deal, on top of being able to run, you get access to the event.  We're excited I think the half-marathon will be a cool component for years to come.  We want to blend the worlds of fitness.

The Granite Games kick off on Thursday evening with a fitness conference, with 24 guest speakers.  Tickets for that are $20 with the proceeds going to the non-profit "Never Ever Give Up". They are hoping to raise over $50,000.

The competition runs from Friday through Sunday.

The professional athletes will be competing for $140,000 in prize money.

Swanson is a St. Cloud native and SCSU alumni.

Another Fifth Ave. Live concert will be held in downtown St. Cloud on Saturday, in conjunction with the Granite Games being in town this weekend.