By 7 a.m. Sunday, guitars will be tuned and some 18,000 people will be lined up to run the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.

Once the starter's pistol goes off, the success of the race will depend largely on "June Gloom," the cloud cover that can hide the sun until mid- to late morning.If the cloud cover hangs around like it did Saturday, it will help conserve runners' energy. If it burns off early like it did Friday, then it could be a different story.

"A lot has to do with the weather cooperating," Mike Long of Elite Racing, the marathon promoter, said Saturday.

The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon will be the biggest first-time marathon ever, as well as America's first major new marathon in more than a decade. And as its name implies, it will feature bands playing approximately at every mile along the course, plus a post-race concert.

The 26 mile, 385-yard course is flat and fast, and the promoters will pay a $5,000 bonus for any man who breaks 2 hours, 10 minutes or a woman who breaks 2:30.

"If the race was run yesterday, we wouldn't have paid it. If it was today, we might have," Long said.

Alas, it won't be fast for Taniguchi, 37, who suffered a leg injury about three weeks ago and hopes he can finish in 2:20.

Heading the men's field are Mexico's Alejandro Cruz; Kenya's Stephen Ndungu, winner of the 1998 Houston Marathon; and Ethiopians Turbo Tumo, eighth in this year's Boston Marathon; Belay Wolasha, who won this year's Hong Kong Marathon; and Abebe Mekonnen, the 1989 Boston Marathon winner.

Cruz has a personal-best of 2:08:57; Tumo, 2:09:00; Wolasha, 2:10:53; and Ndungu, 2:11:14. Mekonnen's best is 2:07:35, but he's also 34.

Philip Tarus of Kenya and Jimmy Hearld of Bowling Green, Ky., will be making their marathon debuts.

Three sub-2:30 marathoners will top the women's field. Maria Trujillo of Los Gatos, Calif., has the fastest time in the field with a 2:28:53 as well as seven marathon victories. The other sub-2:30 entrants are Russia's Irina Bogacheva (2:28:57) and Carey Edge (2:29:23), the former Irish national marathon record holder who's now a Canadian citizen.