Thousands of runners from around the country will arrive at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base this weekend for the 23rd 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 five different distances and a race course that runs past Huffman Prairie and under C-17 aircraft in its final stretch to the finish line.
More than 12,000 people are expected to take part in the marathon and its activities this weekend, according to the base.
The weather could cause some problems for this year’s marathon though, said Storm Center 7 meteorologist Jesse Maag.
Temperatures at 6 a.m. Saturday are expected to start in the upper 60s with mostly clear skies overhead, Maag said. By 9 a.m., temperatures will near the mid-70s and around noon the heat will creeping into the lower to mid 80s, he said.
As they did last year, base meteorologists will again be monitoring the wet bulb globe temperature to decide whether to cancel the race. WBGT, used by the Air Force, takes into account not only the air temperature and relative humidity, but also the wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover.
Last year, the base said it would review its procedures and potentially stop or outright cancel the races if WBGT climbed above 82 degrees.
“Oftentimes on hot days, meteorologists will talk about the heat index, or the ‘feels like temperature,’” Maag said. “Air Force meteorologists have another method of measuring heat and they go to pretty great depths to calculate it.”
New race attractions this year include a “Tailwind Trot 1K” for children and fireworks that will shoot off at the starting line outside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The additions will “bring some incredible excitement” to the annual event, said Col. Tom Sherman, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patt.
““We are very excited for this year’s Air Force Marathon. For us it is really about the runner’s experience and Air Force marathon director Brandon Hough and his team have done a phenomenal job making some really great changes and additions to the event,” Sherman said. “That is what makes the Air Force Marathon so unique and we hope that everyone will have a very memorable experience.”
The 5K race is scheduled this evening at Wright State University’s Nutter Center on Colonel Glenn Highway, according to the marathon’s website. The 10K race starts at 6:30 a.m. Saturday while the wheeled division of the marathon starts at 7:25 a.m., the full marathon and half marathon both start at 7:30 a.m. at the museum.
Traffic around the museum and the base could be heavy early Saturday as buses will begin running every five minutes from the WSU Nutter Center from 3:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., according to the marathon.
The 10K, half and full courses have been re-routed this year and a new corral system to help ease the flow of runner traffic at the starting line has also been added. The 1K will take place today prior to the 5K at Wright State.
Runners who finish a race will receive a medal featuring the KC-46 Pegasus aircraft. An additional special medal will be awarded to those who complete the Flight-Fight-Win! Challenge, which includes completing in three of the marathon’s four main races: the 5K, 10K and half or full marathon.
The Air Force Marathon Sports and Fitness Expo at the Nutter Center runs through 8 p.m. today and features more than 100 booths for runners to visit. New at this year’s expo for amputee runners is a free mobility clinic featuring instruction from Paralympic gold medalist Grace Norman, according to the base.
“I believe the marathon keeps getting better every year,” said Brandon Hough, Air Force Marathon race director. “We have made several improvements this year to enhance the runners and spectators experience so I hope they will enjoy what we’ve got planned for them.”
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