Air Force Marathon follows base’s lead in move to virtual event

Brandon Hough, Air Force Marathon director, congratulates the full marathon female winner Ann Alyanak from Bellbrook, at the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, on Sept. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ty Greenlees)
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Brandon Hough, Air Force Marathon director, congratulates the full marathon female winner Ann Alyanak from Bellbrook, at the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, on Sept. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ty Greenlees)

Refunds, other options available to participants.

With much of the U.S. Air Force Marathon on a Department of Defense facility, its posture must match Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s as the military and the nation work through COVID-19.

With an eye on discouraging case and hospitalization numbers, the 88th Air Base Wing shifted its health protection condition from “bravo” to “bravo-plus” this week.

On Thursday, the day after wing commander Col. Patrick Miller explained the move to “bravo+,” Miller joined marathon Director Brandon Hough in announcing this year’s in-person races would be virtual — for the second year in a row.

“The decision was made based off of DOD (Department of Defense) guidelines,” said Rachael Ferguson, the marathon assistant director. “Being a federal installation as part of the U.S. Air Force we follow what the base is doing. So in our discussions with leadership ... based on where we stand with our HPCON (health protection condition) status, we followed those guidelines as part of the decision-making process.”

Participants can: Defer running until next year, 2023 or 2024; seek a refund; or run virtually on their own. Runners can also gift their registration to an Airman who can run in 2022, organizers said Friday.

[Air Force Marathon to go virtual for second year in a row]

To get a refund, log into your race roster account. Runners should see their name. In the right-hand corner, hit the “edit registration” button, which should give a refund option.

It’s unclear how many will seek refunds. But last year’s experience may be indicative.

“I really can’t predict that, especially since we have just launched that today,” Ferguson said, referring to emails that went to runners Friday. “I can tell you that last year, the refund rate was only around 3%.”

She declined to say whether marathon organizers watched what other big marathons are doing this year. Boston Marathon delayed its 2021 run by six months, to Oct. 11. The New York City Marathon is scheduled for Nov. 7, but it offers a virtual option Oct. 23 through Nov. 7.

“I think runners do have an understanding as to why these decisions are made,” she said.

If you choose the Air Force Marathon’s virtual run, it will be similar to how the race worked last year. The marathon web site’s frequently asked questions section tells visitors: “Simply complete your race distance any day and any where between September 1-30, 2021.

“After you finish, upload your finish time to the results page. We will attempt to have in-person pickup for local participants to pick up their bib, patch, race shirt, and finisher’s medal,” the site says.

For non-local participants and those unable to pick up in-person, race organizers say they will mail bibs, finisher’s medals and other gear beginning in October.

If you have not uploaded results by Sept. 30, items will be mailed to you, the race says.