Thousands to run in Air Force Marathon; spots still available

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Thousands to run in Air Force Marathon; spots still available

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David A. Crawford, of Beavercreek, will be one of an expected 2,400 volunteers at the Air Force Marathon on Saturday. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

The Air Force Marathon planned for Saturday was trailing roughly 2,000 runners below a sell out as of Thursday, but organizers expected to temporarily reopen registration for the half- and full-marathons.

A 5K race Friday at the Wright State University Nutter Center and a 10K race Saturday at Wright-Patterson had sold out, according to marathon director Rob Aguiar.

This year’s race, which also will mark the 70th anniversary of the Air Force, had so far drawn about 13,500 runners from all 50 states and at least a dozen countries, said marathon director Rob Aguiar. Registration reopened Thursday and was due to continue through race day, according to organizers.

The series of four races accommodate a total of about 15,500 runners who compete in a 5K, 10K, and a half- and full-marathon.

The last time the race did not sell out was 2010 when the marathon had a maximum of 10,000 competitors, Aguiar said.

Runners have more races to choose to compete in and the Air Force Marathon may be feeling the effects of that competition, he indicated.

“(In) the racing industry in general there’s a lot more races than there’s ever been,” he said. “In other words, our customer has a lot of options.

“I don’t believe there’s any concern,” he added. “We’re still a fantastic race (and) we’re still a race that people want to do (but) there’s just a lot more races that folks can attend.”

To mark the Air Force’s birthday, two aircraft — a World War II-era P-51 Mustang and an F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighter — will fly over the starting line, he said.

The gathering is a major sporting event in the region and Aguiar said the security will be tightened this year with more concrete barriers in parking areas.

He recommended attendees arrive at least two hours before a scheduled race starts to avoid traffic issues.

Participants, who will be screened onto the race grounds, must use clear plastic bags as part of the security measures, he said.

A sports and fitness expo where runners pick up bibs and visit 100 exhibitors was scheduled through Friday at the Nutter Center.

“The number one thing for everyone is to get to the Expo in a timely fashion, pick up your packet, try to gain as much information as you can as the runner or the spectator or the volunteer (so you) are comfortable with what is needed of you the following day,” he said.

Tracey Judd, of Tampa, Fla., and formerly of Centerville, will run her first marathon Saturday at Wright-Patterson, the place her late father once worked.

“It’s good to come back home and if I’m going to try it my first time, might as well be right here and do it at Wright-Patt,” she said.

Her goal? “Finish,” she said. “That’s it. Have fun and finish.”

The marathon, which launched in 1997, needs an army of volunteers to put everything together and run the race.

David A. Crawford is one of 2,400 expected along the race course Saturday.

Crawford, 65, and a retired Air Force master sergeant with expertise in emergency management, overseas dozens of Ham radio operators and others who communicate any medical or other incidents to organizers.

The Beavercreek resident has volunteered for nearly two decades.

“I’ve got 65 people that help me do this job,” he said. ”It’s a big team effort and we couldn’t run the race without them because we can get information back to the command staff within about 10 seconds of the incident occurring.”

Volunteers set up the course, hand out hand out water, food, blankets and medals, and take on a myriad of duties, he said.

“You’ve got many, many eyes out there,” he said. “…We’ve got people doing everything.”

Crews are ready to give out 31,200 water bottles, 19,000 bottles of Gatoraide, 150 cases of bananas, 7,000 bagels, and 12,000 “heat sheets” or blankets.

They’ll also set up 16,000 feet of fencing and 405 porta-potties, according to organizers.

Parking is available on the Air Force museum grounds. Runners with race bibs may also be dropped off from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. at the Nutter Center to ride an RTA shuttle bus to the starting line at the museum. Runners can be picked up beginning after 8:30 a.m. at the museum or after 9:30 a.m. at the Nutter Center, according to organizers.

RTA Buses will depart the museum to take runners back to the Nutter Center starting at 9:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m, according to Wright-Patt spokesman Brian Brackens.

Fairborn Fly Zone shuttles depart the start line area at 7:40 a.m. They will depart downtown Fairborn at 9:45 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m., he said.

To register and for information about the races and related events, log onto http://www.usafmarathon.com.

WHIO-TV reporter John Bedell contributed to this story.

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