Air Force Marathon inaugurates virtual race series

Maj. Ivan Castro (retired) finishes the 2017 Air Force Marathon. To his side are Darlene Matos on his left and Jackie Ferguson on his right while Tom Yoe follows behind. Castro, who was blinded while serving in Iraq in 2006, is the only blind Special Forces officer in U.S. Army history. Tom Archdeacon/contributed
Maj. Ivan Castro (retired) finishes the 2017 Air Force Marathon. To his side are Darlene Matos on his left and Jackie Ferguson on his right while Tom Yoe follows behind. Castro, who was blinded while serving in Iraq in 2006, is the only blind Special Forces officer in U.S. Army history. Tom Archdeacon/contributed

Registration for first race opens Dec. 1.

Unveiling its newest race series, called “History and Heritage,” the increasingly popular Air Force Marathon aims to highlight retired and historic aircraft that have shaped U.S. Air Force air power in a series of virtual races that participants can run on their own.

On Dec. 1, registration will open for the first race in the six-part series and the first plane will be revealed. The six aircraft featured in the virtual race series will be revealed one at a time every other month, event organizers said in a release.

Runners may choose to participate in the marathon, half marathon, 10K or 5K distances.

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Participants in each race series will receive a finisher’s medal, a commemorative patch portraying each race’s featured aircraft, and information about the aircraft and its role within the U.S. Air Force.

The chosen aircraft represent six unique categories; pre-World War I, World War II, Korean War Era, Vietnam Era, Post-Vietnam Era, and Experimental. All aircraft to be featured can be found inside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

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“While the annual Air Force Marathon, held the third Saturday in September, normally features active aircraft, this new virtual race series will allow more participants from all over the world to learn and share in this history through participation in the marathon, half marathon, 10K, or 5K from their home,” the marathon said in a release.

“With the Air Force Marathon occurring only once per year, we have been greatly limited in our ability to highlight the hundreds of aircraft that have come to define our great Air Force,” said Brandon Hough, director of the marathon, “This new race series will allow us to honor the Air Force’s rich history and heritage by telling the story of so many more aircraft that have shaped the Air Force that we have become!”

Learn more about the History & Heritage Race Series and see more race information by visiting usafvirtual.com.

The 2020 Air Force Marathon in September was virtual, due to the pandemic. Even though 3,000 registered runners deferred — meaning, they are slotted in to run the 2021 race without paying new registration fees —this year’s event grew its numbers.

“We actually did about 1,500 more registrations this year than last year,” Hough told the Dayton Daily News in August. “So we grew. We got so many new runners into the frame.”

In a virtual race, runners can run on their own time and upload their results.

But in one sense, that’s nothing new. The marathon had a virtual component for runners who could not make it to the starting line well before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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