WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — It was an interesting contrast in sounds.
A B-2 Stealth bomber did a flyover Saturday morning to mark the start of the half-marathon portion of the 16th U.S. Air Force Marathon.
The crowd of 30,000 stared in awe as the aircraft moved silently through the sky.
At the start of the 13.1 mile race, the motorcycle built to resemble the B-2 was loud enough to be heard all the way to Whiteman Air Force Base near Kansas City, where the planes are based.
The B-2 bike was produced by Paul Teutel Sr., of Orange County Choppers in Newburg, N.Y., in July 2009. The bike, commissioned by Northrup-Grumann — builder of the B-2 — was featured on the popular cable television show “American Chopper.”
The 12-foot chopper got massive attention even before Dave Mazur fired it up prior to the 26.2 mile marathon and then to pace the runners in the half.
“We get great reaction every promotion we do,” said Mazur, the vice president for the B-2 program headquartered in Palmdale, Calif., who pilots the bike. “But this is far and away the most enthusiastic crowd we’ve ever had.
“These are people knowledgeable about aircraft and they see all the little details. It’s not street legal, so we don’t use mufflers. When we fire it up everyone loves it.”
Mazur rode the clutch all the way around the 13.1-mile course so the beast wouldn’t get away from him. “The muscles in my hands are crampled up,” he said after the race. “I couldn’t do that for a whole marathon.”
Ben Payne, a captain stationed at Hulburt Field near Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was the men’s half-marathon winner in 1:07.23. Emily Shertzer, a senior airman stationed at Indiantown Gap, Pa., was the women’s half winner.
Her time was skewed because a part of the field veered off course for at least two miles. She hit the finish line in 1:24.52. “It’s frustrating that it happened because I was looking for a real good time,” she said.
— Bruce Chase, a 61-year-old computer engineer from Westerville, repeated as the wheelchair champion. He set a course record of 1:22.43.
It could have been much faster, but he nearly halted during the race. A police car leading the runners unexpectedly stopped for civilians blocking the course despite its red lights flashing.
“I went from going over 30 miles an hour to nearly zero,” he said. “Not a good situation, but we got back up to speed and put in a good time.”
— Carol Grate of Greenfield won the women’s 5,000-meter race Friday night. The 61-year old Grate’s time was 21:25, almost two minutes faster than the 27-year-old second-place runner.