The third Saturday of September is approaching, and that means one thing: Tens of thousands of U.S. Air Force Marathon runners will move through the streets of Fairborn.
“The energy is pretty electric as the runners get to come through Fairborn,” said Meghan Howard, communication manager for the city of Fairborn and someone who has run the marathon.
First held in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Air Force, the Air Force Marathon has grown into a multi-day event with more than 8,000 runners from all 50 states.
Events for the annual marathon kick off today with the Health & Fitness Expo at the Wright State University Ervin J. Nutter Center. The event from 3 to 7 p.m. is open to the public and will feature more than 100 exhibitors displaying developments in health, fitness and nutrition. It is also where all competitors will pick up their race bibs.
On Friday, the Tailwind Trot 1K Kids’ run begins at 6 p.m. and a 5K race starts at 6:30 p.m., beginning at Setzer Pavilion behind the Nutter Center.
A 10K race will kick off Saturday races beginning on the grounds of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The race starts at 6:30 a.m. The half and full marathons start at 7:30 a.m.
A Finish Line Festival will be held for the first time this year from noon to 3:30 p.m. at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and feature food, drinks and live music.
Several public roads around Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and in Fairborn will be impacted. Some 8,000 participants are expected, so roads and traffic will be affected from about 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day, Howard said.
Here’s what you should know:
Most of downtown Fairborn and the area around it will be affected.
The full marathon, especially miles 14 and 15, goes through “pretty much our Main Street corridor,” Howard said.
“It runs all along Main Street, from Broad Street to Pleasant Avenue. Pretty much from Broad Street to Maple Avenue is closed, on Main. As well, pretty much from Broad Street to about Maple, north and south, is closed, pretty much in every direction, from Dayton Drive to Xenia (Drive), that area,” she said.
The route goes along part of Xenia Drive, as well.
The Fairborn “Fly Zone” a section for race spectators, will be downtown. Howard said when she ran, the fly zone “was by far my favorite part of the race.”
Motorists in the area should see signs indicating closed roads and detour routes.
“It will be clearly marked, where the detours are, where the roads will be closed,” Howard said. “It really shouldn’t be a problem.”
If you’re planning to go through the area, know that roads will close starting at about 6 a.m. Saturday, opening again around 12:30 p.m. or 1 p.m., depending on when the last race participants come through. Roads will not be opened until the last runner goes through, Howard cautioned.
Homeowners and residents on affected routes should have received letters from Fairborn police Wednesday, Howard said. If those residents get out early, they can drive off. During the event, they will not be able to drive, she said.
“You’re pseudo-stuck,” Howard said of residents who live on the route. “Just enjoy it. Enjoy being downtown and soaking in the atmosphere.”
Public roads closed
Wright-Patterson’s 88th Air Base Wing is warning that State Route 844 will be impacted. There will be four barriers along Ohio 844 due to that road being part of the race course.
From 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will also be road closures along Kauffman Road between Wright State University and Wright-Patterson. They’re at the intersections of National Road, McClellan Drive, Van Dorn Lane, Shields Avenue and Zink Road.
Eastbound Springfield Street will be closed from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Other base changes
Wright Patterson will also alter traffic patterns at base gates Saturday.
Gate 1A, also known as the commissary gate, will be closed from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. as it’s part of the marathon route, the 88th Air Base Wing said on its web site. Operations return to normal hours following the race.
Gate 12A, the Air Force Materiel Command headquarters gate, will be open for vehicle traffic; however, vehicles will only have access to Spruce Way via Redbud Lane, the base said. There is none via Estabrook Road or Sugar Maple Drive.
This will maintain access to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, 88th Security Forces Squadron, Wright-Patterson Medical Center and Kittyhawk area, the base said.
The commercial vehicles gate at Gate 16A will be closed. Area A-only commercial vehicles will be inspected at Gate 12A for commissary and base exchange deliveries.
Gates 15A and 1B will be be closed.
Gate 18A will be open intermittently for race volunteers only.
Gate 26A will be open from 4 to 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. for marathon volunteers and Fire Department personnel entry and exit only.
Gate 19B will be open as normal; however, the base says restricted access throughout Area B is in effect until the last runner passes Eighth Street. The base said it should be lifted by 1 p.m., but that could change.
Gate 22B off I-675 will be open 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. for public access.
Be aware, parking entry gates open on museum grounds at 4 a.m. and runners will not be allowed to be dropped off at the museum. Check the marathon’s Parking, Shuttle, and Directions page and Race Rules page for more information.
The museum gate off Springfield Street in Riverside will be open from 3 to 7:30 a.m. for marathon and museum staff, people with disabilities, volunteers, shuttles and distinguished visitor parking (Lot A or Lot B pass will be required).
After 7:30 a.m., the museum gate will be open to the public during its normal hours of operation.