The first Air Force Marathon in 1997 drew 2,750 entrants. It took place that September after only seven months of planning.
“We couldn’t be happier with the way things went,” Lt. Gen. Ken Eickmann, who was the race director that year, said then. “People who ran other marathons told us we’d be lucky to draw 1,000 for our first, so you can see why we’re so proud about what we’ve been able to do.”
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The marathon — and the races of other distances that go with it — grew into a bigger spectacle over the years, drawing a record 15,424 runners in 2013. Although the number of participants dipped to 13,679 in 2017, ending a five-year stretch in which more than 15,000 people raced every year, the 2018 Air Force Marathon at Wright Patterson will draw another huge crowd with runners from all 50 states and eight countries.
“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 Brandon Hough, Air Force Marathon race director, in a press release. “We’ve really focused on providing a great experience, and I think the runners will really enjoy what we’ve got planned for them.”
Here are seven things to know about the race:
1. Opening events: The Air Force Marathon Sports and Fitness Expo at the Wright State University Nutter Center started at 11 a.m. Thursday and continues Friday from 10 a.m to 8 p.m.
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The weekend’s opening ceremony starts at 6:15 p.m. Friday, and the Air Force 5K race at Wright State follows at 6:30 p.m.
2. Saturday's schedule: The runner entry gates open at 5 a.m. The marathon and 10K opening ceremony starts at 7:10 a.m. The races begin at the following times: wheeled marathon (7:25 a.m.); marathon and 10K (7:30 a.m.); and half marathon (8:30 a.m.).
Awards for the 10K will be presented at 9 a.m. The full and half marathon awards will be presented at 11 a.m.
3. Among the best: Daily Burn, a popular fitness website, named the Air Force Marathon one of the 15 best fall marathons in February.
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4. Official aircraft: Last December, the MQ-9 Reaper drone was named the official aircraft of the 2018 Air Force Marathon. It's the second time the Air Force has picked a unmanned aerial vehicle. In chose the MQ-4 Global Hawk, a reconnaissance drone, in 2009.
5. Race souvenirs: Runners who complete a race receive a medal featuring the MQ-9 Reaper. Athletes who finish the Flight-Fight-Win! Challenge — as finishers of the 5K, 10K and half marathon — get an extra medal. Senior Air Force leaders will present medals at the finish line.
6. Looking back: Bryan Kelly, a test pilot from Edwards Air Force Base in California, won the men's marathon last yearin 2 hours, 40 minutes, 34 seconds. Ann Alyanak, of Bellbrook, won the women's race in 2:56.57.
7. Race day forecast: Runners should expect warm, muggy conditions. Temperatures will be in the 80s on Friday night for the 5K. When the marathon begins Saturday, the temperature will be in the upper 60s, and it will get hotter as runners progress through the course. It will be in the upper 70s by noon.
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