Air Force Marathon returns in September for 25th anniversary

Medals for the 2019 Air Force Marathon hang on display at the race's finish line at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Sept. 21, 2019. More than 12,700 runners and 2,600 volunteers from all 50 states and 15 different countries came out to run in the races 23rd year. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/WESLEY FARNSWORTH

Credit: 88th Air Base Wing Public Affair

Combined ShapeCaption
Medals for the 2019 Air Force Marathon hang on display at the race's finish line at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Sept. 21, 2019. More than 12,700 runners and 2,600 volunteers from all 50 states and 15 different countries came out to run in the races 23rd year. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/WESLEY FARNSWORTH

Credit: 88th Air Base Wing Public Affair

On-location racing returns after COVID-19 hiatus, honoring Air Force’s 75th anniversary.

The Air Force Marathon is back for on-location racing in what will be its 25th anniversary on Sept. 18

This year’s event celebrates the breadth of Air Force power, highlighting a quartet of famous airplanes. Races include the familiar array of distances: The 26.2-mile marathon, 13.1-mile half marathon, 10K, 5K, Tailwind Trot 1K Kids’ Run, and the “Fly! Fight! Win! Challenge” events — two days, three races and four medals, if you think you’re up to it.

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The marathon three-person relay is also returning this year after a long hiatus.

“I loved the marathon before I was paid to tell people I loved it,” Brandon Hough said in an interview Friday, recalling that he ran the full marathon three times and the 5K once before he became director.

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The B-2 Spirit, F-35 Lightning, C-17 GlobeMaster III and A-10 Thunderbolt II will all be featured at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Air Force Marathon on Sept. 18, 2021. For the latest on the Air Force Marathon, go to https://www.usafmarathon.com/ or follow the Air Force Marathon Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AirForceMarathon/. Courtesy graphic

The B-2 Spirit, F-35 Lightning, C-17 GlobeMaster III and A-10 Thunderbolt II will all be featured at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Air Force Marathon on Sept. 18, 2021. For the latest on the Air Force Marathon, go to https://www.usafmarathon.com/ or follow the Air Force Marathon Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AirForceMarathon/. Courtesy graphic

Combined ShapeCaption
The B-2 Spirit, F-35 Lightning, C-17 GlobeMaster III and A-10 Thunderbolt II will all be featured at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Air Force Marathon on Sept. 18, 2021. For the latest on the Air Force Marathon, go to https://www.usafmarathon.com/ or follow the Air Force Marathon Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AirForceMarathon/. Courtesy graphic

“What a privilege to come to work for something I completely love,” he said.

Hough said is pleased by the registration numbers so far. Registration is perhaps 10% below where it stood at a similar point in 2019, but that’s not bad news, he said. That’s probably ahead of where similar races are at this point, he said. And he expects registration to speed up as the events approach.

“We’re going to put on a great race for those who do come,” Hough said.

The 2021 events will honor another milestone. The 25th anniversary marathon is the official kickoff event to the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, Hough said, calling it the “race to 75.”

“Given that we were founded to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the USAF, it is a great honor to be the USAF’s official kickoff to begin celebrations of the 75th anniversary,” he said.

The marathon embraced virtual race options before the COVID-19 pandemic. There remains a contingent of runners who want to race, but for a variety of reasons can’t make it to the starting line at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

“We are bigger now than just the third weekend in September,” Hough said.

There were about 11,500 virtual participants last year from about 30 countries. And this year’s races have about 1,000 virtual participants so far, signifying an option that has proven to be popular. Registration for virtual racing can be found at https://www.usafmarathon.com/virtual-races/.

Meanwhile the History & Heritage Race series, which has always been virtual, remains on offer.

That series lets participants run where they are and continues to highlight retired aircraft. Six airplanes are featured in 2021, with each aircraft revealed every two months. Registration for those races can be found https://www.usafmarathon.com/virtual-series/

“It just shows you that people want to be associated with the U.S. Air Force Marathon,” Hough said.

Four distinctive airplanes being celebrated in this year’s race: The B-2 Spirit, F-35 Lighting II, A-10 Thunderbird II and the mighty C-17 Globemaster III.

The race continues to concern itself with nailing down “the fundamentals,” Hough said. The events need about 2,500 volunteers, and those will be welcomed until about the first week of September.

To register for on-location and virtual events; go to https://www.usafmarathon.com/.

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