As participants in the annual Air Force Marathon continued to trickle in over the finish line Saturday afternoon, marathon director Rachael Ferguson unveiled plans for the event to collaborate with all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces for a new race series challenge.
The Armed Forces Series will challenge participants to complete all official races sanctioned by each branch of the Armed Forces. Upon completion of the Marine Corps Marathon, Army Ten Miler, Space Force T-Minus 10-Miler, Air Force Marathon, and Coast Guard Marathon, racers will be presented with a newly-designed medal to commemorate the feat.
“We’re excited for this partnership to allow all of the branches to come together and unite, giving people a chance to experience what it means to be part of the military family and to do so through running,” Ferguson said. “These races give those who may not be familiar a chance to experience the military cultures in this unique way.”
The races are held from April to December each year, each in a different location in the U.S., and for maximum flexibility, do not need to be finished within a certain time window.
Ferguson added that while the U.S. Navy does not yet have an officially-sanctioned race, this branch will likely be added to the challenge in the future.
Interested competitors can register beginning Jan. 2 on the Armed Forces Series Challenge participant portal. This portal will be accessed through each event’s website. Although runners must sign up for the challenge through the portal, they will need register for each event separately.
This year’s Air Force Marathon was in celebration of the branch’s 76th anniversary. The U.S. Air Force was established as a separate service on Sept. 18, 1947.
Around 8,500 individuals participated on Saturday, running 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and full marathon distances.
Stephanie Towne completed her first half-marathon on Saturday.
“This is my 16th race, but my longest before this was nine miles,” she said soon after finishing the 13.1-mile half-marathon. “I’m tired, but I’m super proud and so happy.”
Towne, a Kettering resident, said she’s working toward a goal to one day participate in a full marathon, highlighting that she trains with two close friends, Ashley and Kristen Humphreys, who were by her side throughout Saturday’s race.
Towne said she was originally inspired to participate in races as a way to become healthier, sharing that she’s lost 80 pounds since beginning the journey.
Towne was also supported Saturday by her husband Matt and their daughter Katie, who held up signs and a balloon while cheering her on.
“I do some walks with her but then I’ll drop out because she goes so far and does so much,” Katie said. “It was really exciting to see her do this.”