HOPKINTON (CBS) – If it’s the Thursday before the Boston Marathon, then it’s a big day for second and third graders in Hopkinton.

Keeping with an annual tradition that started 25 years ago, a group of 12 elite runners from Kenya visited the Elmwood School for a pre-race rally followed by a jog around the bus loop with students.

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2012 men’s champion Wesley Korir and 2015 women’s champion Caroline Rotich were among the marathoners who met with the children Thursday as part of the ‘Scholars and Stars’ program.

“When I was in second grade, I didn’t realize the magnitude of it. It’s almost like you’re at a Game 7-type thing and you see them for the first time, it’s crazy,” a Hopkinton High School student told WBZ-TV.

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Third graders spent part of the school year learning about Kenya and its culture to prepare for the event, which is known at Elmwood as “Kenya Day.”

The event is known as Kenya Day at Elmwood School. (WBZ-TV)

The Elmwood School event began in 1992 when 150 students welcomed three-time Boston Marathon champion Ibrahim Hussein and his Kenyan teammates.

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The school is 1.3 miles away from the starting line in Hopkinton.