The Air Force Marathon, which attracts thousands of runners around the country to the Miami Valley every fall, is searching for a new director since its veteran leader departed last week.
Rob Aguiar, marathon director since 2012 and once deputy director, left March 23, according to Wright-Patterson spokeswoman Marie Vanover.
Aguiar could not be reached for comment this week and Vanover said marathon officials were not available to comment.
The series of races — a 5K, 10K, half- and full-marathon, have in recent years attracted 15,000 runners from all 50 states and more than a dozen countries, although combined attendance dropped to less than 13,700 in 2017.
The director’s departure surprised long-time Air Force Marathon competitor Sid Busch, who has run in 14 consecutive races at Wright-Patterson.
“It’s going to be a big impact,” said Busch, 71, of Goose Creek, S.C., who has run more than 200 full marathons. “He was really a hands-on guy, really threw himself into the marathon and all the other running events that weekend plus he traveled around really promoting the Air Force Marathon.”
Marathon officials have not spoken publicly about the vacancy. The job was advertised at a pay rate of $25 to $35 an hour. The Air Force was asking potential applicants to apply by Thursday, March 29.
The marathon’s next series of races — a 10K, half-marathon and full marathon — were set Sept. 15 at Wright-Patterson. A marathon 5K race is scheduled the day before at Wright State University.
Named the best among the 15 top fall marathons by the Daily Burn in January, the series of races made the ranking several times.
But the race recorded an overall drop-in participation in 2017, with 13,679 runners versus more than 15,000 who competed every year since 2012 — reaching a peak of 15,424 in 2013, figures show.
Aguiar had announced in December the marathon would offer a new medal for runners who completed three races, the 5K, 10K and half marathon, in a bid to push up numbers. The marathon snakes through Wright-Patterson and parts of downtown Fairborn.
The drop-in participation followed a nationwide trend of a rise in the total number of races while the number of people running competitively has dropped in recent years.
The industry had 30,400 races in the United States in 2016 versus 26,370 in 2012, according to Running USA statistics. More than half the contests were 5K contests. The running industry reached a peak of 19 million runners in 2013, but since then had fallen to under 17 million, Running USA reported.