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Ramp up for Air Force Marathon, even if you aren’t in the race

Three-day event begins Thursday with Fitness Expo.

For retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief Sid Busch, it’s not about running, it’s about remembering. With an American flag in hand and a picture of a fallen soldier on his back, the 72-year-old does just that in every race he enters.

“I run in honor of fallen heroes,” Busch said. “When I first started this, I looked on a website that listed military casualties. Now, I get emails from people asking me to run in honor of one of their loved ones. It’s kind of taken on a life of its own.”

The 22nd running of the Air Force Marathon will take place Sept. 15 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base with thousands of runners from around the world are scheduled to participate in the event. (U.S. Air Force photos/graphics)

Busch, who now calls Goose Creek, S.C., home, will again be honoring members of the military when he returns to Dayton for the U.S. Air Force Marathon. The marathon is slated for Sept. 15, but that race is only part of the three-day event that includes both a 5K and 10K, a Sports & Fitness Expo and an After-Party at the Greene.

»»SAVE THE DATE: Air Force Marathon after party and beer fest set at The Greene

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“I have run marathons all over the world and the Air Force is one of my favorites,” Busch said.

He has a good frame of reference, as he has completed more than 200 marathons and 700 half-marathons. This year, he will compete in both the 5K and the half-marathon.

“It’s getting harder and harder to run at my age — I think I’ve used up my lifetime supply of miles,” he said with a smile. “But it means a lot to me and it means a lot to the families.”

»»RELATED: Thousands turn out for 2017 Air Force Marathon, winners announced

Busch will be one of thousands of competitors at this, the 22nd annual U.S. Air Force Marathon. Last year, approximately 13,500 runners and walkers from all 50 states and 16 other countries took part in one or more of the events.

ON YOUR MARK … GET SET … GO

The full marathon is the main event, but far from the only opportunity to lace up your running shoes.

Runners take part in the 12th Annual U.S. Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. STAFF FILE PHOTO BY CHRIS STEWART (Contributing Writer)

The weekend of running begins with a 5K on the campus of Wright State University on Friday. Saturday morning, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will be the site for the 10K, and both the half and full marathon. New this year is the addition of the Fly! Fight! Win! Challenge! Participants in the challenge will compete in the 5K, 10K and half marathon.

“This is something that is fairly common in the industry,” said Rick Perron, Air Force Marathon marketing coordinator. “Runners are looking for new experiences and new challenges, and we’re always trying to add events to give them different options.”

The quality of the event has not gone unnoticed, as the Air Force Marathon has once again been named one of “The 15 Best Fall Marathons in the U.S.” by the fitness website Daily Burn. The site lists the relatively flat course, flyovers and historical aviation sites as contributing factors to its designation.

An Air Force Marathon volunteer hands out water to a runner at one of the many stations along the course Sept. 16, 2017. More than 2,400 people volunteer annually to support marathon events. (U.S. Air Force photo/Al Bright) (88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs)

BEYOND THE FINISH LINE

The races are just part of the three-day event.

Wright State University Nutter Center is hosting a two-day Sports & Fitness Expo with 126 booths for a wide variety of vendors and community organizations. Guest speakers will also take center stage at the expo including former Olympian and author Jeff Galloway.

»»RELATED: 5 things to know about the Air Force Marathon

“This event is about celebrating the Air Force, but also encouraging health and fitness,” Perron said. “We look for things that are going to improve the experience for the runners and hearing from a guy whose a rock star in the running community is one of those ways.”

A Breakfast of Champions, gourmet pasta dinner and an After-Party are also part of the weekend’s events.

Brian Kelly, a major in the Air Force based out of California, won the U.S. Air Force Marathon with a time of 2 hours and 40 minutes. NICK DUDUKOVICH / CONTRIBUTED (Staff Writer)

22ND ANNUAL U.S. AIR FORCE MARATHON SCHEDULE

Thursday, Sept. 13

* Sports & Fitness Expo – 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Where: Wright State University Nutter Center

What: Guest speakers, bib pick-up, vendors and community organizations. Free and open to the public.

Friday, Sept. 14

* Breakfast of Champions – 8-10 a.m.

Where: Holiday Inn Dayton-Fairborn, 2800 Presidential Drive

* Sports & Fitness Expo – 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Where: Wright State University Nutter Center

What: Guest speakers, bib pick-up, vendors and community organizations. Free and open to the public.

* Gourmet Pasta Dinner – 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

* Air Force 5K – 6:15 opening ceremony; 6:30 p.m. race start Setzer Pavilion; 7:30 p.m. 5K award presentation

Saturday, Sept. 15 (No bib pickup on Race Day)

All events take place at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

5 a.m. – Runner entry gates open

7:10 a.m. – Marathon and 10K opening ceremonies

7:25 a.m. – Wheeled Marathon start

7:30 a.m. – Marathon and 10K start

8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Finish Line Festival

8:15 a.m. – Half Marathon opening ceremony

8:30 a.m. – Half Marathon starts

9 a.m. – 10K Award presentations (Festival Tent)

11 a.m. – Full & Half Marathon Award Presentations (Festival Tent)

5 p.m. – After-Party at The Greene, free and open to the public

Information: Visit www.usafmarathon.com for additional information.

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