Thousands of runners from all 50 states and at least eight different countries are descending on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base this weekend for the 22nd annual Air Force Marathon.
The marathon, which is a Boston Marathon qualifying race, was first held in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Air Force. The event features four different distances and a race course that runs under C-17 aircraft in its final stretch to the finish line.
“People are going to get an experience out of the Air Force Marathon that they won’t get at any other place across the country,” said Col. Tom Sherman, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patt.
The 5K starts at 6:30 p.m. today on Wright State University’s campus near the Nutter Center while the marathon and 10K start at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and the half marathon begins at 8:15 a.m. Saturday. The full marathon, half marathon and 10K are all run on the base.
The marathon expects to welcome around the same number of runners as it did last year, Sherman said. But, there are still spots available and people can register to run in some of the races through Friday.
“We are really excited with how the marathon is shaping up this year,” said Col Tom Sherman, installation commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patt. “We are (at) well over 12,000 participants and we are breaking some records in our 5K and 10K this year so we are super excited about the level of participation.”
The weather will be “warm and muggy” for the marathon’s festivities as temperatures are expected to climb into the mid-80s, said Storm Center 7 meteorologist Jesse Maag. The heat index will approach the 90-degree mark and there’s a small chance of rain.
“It appears we do have a slight chance for a few isolated showers and thunderstorms popping up in the afternoon hours,” Maag said. “Most of us should enjoy a good amount of sunshine, however, so don’t expect a wash by any means.”
Traffic could be backed up early on roads surrounding the base as gates will open at 5 a.m. Saturday.
Runners can enter at gate 22B or gates on Spinning Drive and Woodman Drive, according to the marathon. Guests, volunteers and people using handicap parking can enter at a gate at the National Museum of the United States Air Force but they’ll need a pass to get in.
This year the RTA is offering shuttle buses to runners who can hop on at Wright State University’s Nutter Center starting at 4:30 a.m. RTA buses will depart from the Nutter Center every 10 minutes until 6 a.m., according to Wright-Patt. Shuttles will also be available for runners in downtown Fairborn at 9:45 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.
“The neighboring communities are absolutely integral to our marathon this year,” Sherman said. “Everything from the support we get from Wright State University to all of our folks here in Fairborn and Riverside… this is very much not just an Air Force event but a community event as well.”
The marathon weekend kicked off Thursday with a two-day expo at Wright State’s Nutter Center. The expo provided a place for runners to pick up their credentials and more 100 booths from local businesses including everything from Starbucks to Boeing and USA Sports, according to the Air Force.
American Olympian Jeff Galloway, who competed in the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, Germany, is the marathon’s featured speaker. He spoke Thursday evening at the expo and will speak again today at 3:30 p.m.
The weekend events will also feature special ceremonies and speakers at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and an after party at The Greene scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday.
“We could not be more excited to welcome so many people from all around the country, and even the world for the 22nd running of the marathon,” said race director Brandon Hough. “We’ve really focused on providing a great experience, and I think the runners will really enjoy what we’ve got planned for them.”
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