An estimated 15,000 participants, spectators, volunteers and officials will descend on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base early Saturday morning for the 17th Air Force Marathon.
Here are five things to know about the annual event.
• The 26.2-mile course meanders through Area’s A and B and for a brief stretch detours along Ohio 444 in Fairborn. It is somewhat hilly, especially near the end approaching the Air Force Museum. For the serious minded, it’s an official Boston marathon qualifier and the course is certified by the USA Track and Field Association.
The marathon is just part of the fun. A 5K will be held at the Wright State Nutter Center on Friday. A half-marathon and 10K also will be held Saturday, all at the same start position on the museum grounds.
• This is an annual U.S. Air Force marathon championship and draws runners from throughout the world who are members of the many Air Forces allied to the United States, including NATO. That makes for an interesting international mix of participants along with an abundance of mostly regional runners from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky.
Zebulon Hanley of San Antonio is the defending men’s marathon winner (2:47.04) and Rachel Harley of Birmingham, Alabama, was the 2016 women’s winner (2:58.34).
Courtney Stroble of Yellow Springs was the only area winner last year, besting the women’s 10K field (42.50).
Former Beavercreek High School and University of Dayton standout runner Kara Storage set the women’s half-marathon record of 1:15.56 in 2011. That’s an average of 5:48 each of the 13.1 miles.
• This event draws more volunteers than a major golf tournament. More than 2,300 volunteers are expected to help run this weekend’s activities.
• The event is open to the public and free. There is ample parking, but count on walking a half mile or more to the start/finish line.
• Registration for the 2018 race weekend begins in January.