AF Marathon participation down; race seeks answers

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 8:16 AM
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 9:33 AM

            Brian Kelly, a major in the Air Force based out of California, won the U.S. Air Force Marathon with a time of 2 hours and 40 minutes. NICK DUDUKOVICH / CONTRIBUTED
Brian Kelly, a major in the Air Force based out of California, won the U.S. Air Force Marathon with a time of 2 hours and 40 minutes. NICK DUDUKOVICH / CONTRIBUTED

Faced with fewer people running this year, Air Force Marathon organizers may consider changes to the series of races to push up numbers on the starting line in 2018.

The marathon, a series of races with 5K and 10K contests and half- and full-marathons, may add a new race of a shorter distance, and increase opportunities to participate in more than one event, according to marathon director Rob Aguiar.

The marathon counted 13,679 runners for the races on Sept.15-16 versus more than 15,000 who competed every year since 2012 — reaching a peak of 15,424 runners in 2013, figures show. The last time the race did not sell out was 2009 when the event had a cap of 10,000 runners and fell a few dozen under that total.

Organizers will listen to what runners say they want before deciding what to do, he said.

“We don’t want to make change just for changes sake,” he said.

RELATED: Thousands to run in Air Force Marathon

The 5K and 10K races sold out this year, but the numbers for the half- and full-marathons were below previous years, according to attendance figures. The half marathon brought in just over 5,200 out of a target of 6,500; the full marathon attracted about 2,100 out of a goal of 2,500, according to race figures.

Still, the race brought competitors from all 50 states and 14 countries to the Miami Valley event, Aguiar said. The marathon has raised caps on the number of runners by thousands since the first race attracted 2,751 participants in 1997.

And it’s big business for the region. The race had an estimated $13.7 million economic impact on tourism and travel-related spending in 2016, according to the Greene County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Figures for this year’s marathon weren’t yet calculated.

A ‘saturation’ of races

Race industry observers say the U.S. market has reached “saturation” with a sharp uptick in the number of races while the number of runners crossing the finish line has dropped nationwide.

“This is not just an Air Force Marathon issue,” Aguiar said. “It is a racing industry issue. There’s a lot of races out there.”

The industry had 30,400 races in the United States last year versus 26,370 in 2012, according to Running USA statistics. More than half the contests in 2016 were 5K competitions.

The number of finishers climbed exponentially —- from five million in 1990 to a peak of 19 million in 2013. Since then, it’s fallen to just under 17 million, Running USA reported.

RELATED: FIve things to know about the Air Force Marathon

The explosion in the number of races has been pushed mostly by 5K contests with themes, such as costumes, bubble, or foam races, holiday and charity runs, among newcomers, according to Running USA Chief Executive Officer Rich Harshbarger.

“They’re more celebration and more social than they are competitive,” he said. “People started coming up with crazy ideas.

”The real question is what’s the longevity of some of those and I think a lot of them are running their course, so to speak,” he added.

The popularity of mud and cross-fit competitions have waded into the scene, too, he said.

“There’s a lot of things vying for people’s recreation time and particularly when you’re looking at the millennial generation they’re looking for something with a little bit more edge than a straightforward run,” Harshbarger said.

RELATED: Stealth fighter, WWII plane to fly over Air Force Marathon

On weekends in the southwest Ohio region, runners have found a bevy of races to choose.

“People want to try all kinds of different things and when they have more choices they are more choosy about what they participate in,” said Doug Picard, 37, who has run in each of the Air Force Marathon’s four contests since 2014.

Surveying for answers

The marathon will survey runners in the coming weeks, listen to feedback gathered elsewhere such as social media and email, and explore how races across the country engage runners, Aguiar said.

“We’re all looking at that making sure … any changes that we do that it’s always a positive experience for the runner,” Aguiar said.

RELATED: Thousands turn out for Air Force Marathon, winners announced

Racers input led to the addition of a 10K race and dropping a relay marathon nearly a decade ago, he said.

Picard, a member of the Ohio River Road Runners Club in Dayton, has competed in 100 contests. Races retain runners with different strategies, such as recognizing people who compete in more than one race at an event, or give out a piece of a racing medal every year until its complete, he said.

“It keeps people coming back year after year,” he said.

Harshbarger had this advice: “I think the best thing they can do is stay true to their brand and continue to offer an extraordinary experience,” he said. “As long as you highlight what’s uniquely yours and build on that to appeal to people, that’s better than any sort of gimmick or one-time trick. They are an established event.”

At the finish line

The number of races in the United States has climbed for years even as the number of runners reaching the finish line has dropped in recent years. The number of runners dropped from 19 million in 2013 to just under 17 million last year, the fourth largest in history, according to Running USA

Number of races

2016 - 30,400

2015 - 30,300

2014 - 28,000

2013 - 28,200

2012 - 26,370


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Paul McCartney reflects on John Lennon at March for Our Lives rally

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 3:21 PM

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24:  Sir Paul McCartney joins thousands of people, many of them students, march against gun violence in Manhattan during the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in New York, United States.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Sir Paul McCartney joins thousands of people, many of them students, march against gun violence in Manhattan during the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in New York, United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Music legend Paul McCartney participated in the March for Our Lives rally in New York City Saturday.

When asked by a CNN reporter what he hoped could be accomplished by the movement, McCartney pointed to his shirt, which had the message, "We can end gun violence" printed on it.

>> Read more trending news 

"One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here, so it's important to me," McCartney said.

McCartney was referring to his former Beatles bandmate, John Lennon, who was shot and killed in New York City in 1980 by Mark David Chapman. Lennon was 40 years old.

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Texas space lover says NASA photographed 'alien skeleton' on Mars

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 9:16 AM

Space Enthusiast Says NASA Photographed ‘Alien Skeleton’ on Mars

A space enthusiast from Texas believes photographs taken by a NASA rover reveal an “alien skeleton” on Mars, KTRK reported.

>> Read more trending news

A person from Waxahachie said a group of what looks like rocks is actually the skull and spine of a possible Martian. 

The person filed a report with the Mutual UFO Network, which investigates UFO sightings in the United States and beyond, KTRK reported.

According to the report, the alleged skeleton was photographed by the Opportunity rover on Feb. 1 in Perseverance Valley on the west rim of Mars' Endeavour Crater.

The person who submitted the report to the UFO Network said a 3-D image revealed the bone detail of a spine, KTRK reported.

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Flames consume vacant house in Dayton

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 11:12 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 12:10 AM

Flames were shooting from the two-story house when crews were called around 11 p.m. to 917 Lorain Ave.

UPDATE @ 12:10 a.m. (March 24)

Flames consumed a vacant house Friday night on Lorain Avenue.

The two-story house had not been lived in for some time, and the source of the fire is under investigation because the dwelling had no utilities connected, Dayton fire officials said.

No injuries were reported, and no arrests have been made.


Crews were called late Friday night to a fire at a vacant house.

Flames were shooting from the two-story house when crews were called around 11 p.m. to 917 Lorain Ave.

We are on the way and will update this report as we learn details.

Got a tip? Call our 24-hour monitored line, 937-259-2237, or send it to

Viewer video, submitted by Mike Lear via Facebook.

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Dayton wants in on Trump’s tax reform program

Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 2:43 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 2:43 PM

            Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein and Mayor Nan Whaley at a recent tax incentive review meeting. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein and Mayor Nan Whaley at a recent tax incentive review meeting. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The state of Ohio has nominated large sections of Dayton to be opportunity zones, which under Trump’s federal tax reform bill can give tax breaks to investments in those areas.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created the new opportunity zones program with the goal of spurring private investment in distressed communities.

The program provides a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into new funds that put money into economically challenged areas.

Officials say opportunity zones across the nation could attract billions of dollars in new investment into some high poverty neighborhoods.

“It’s basically a way to induce investment in areas that are traditionally under-invested in,” said Tony Kroeger, Dayton city planner.

RELATED: Ohio GOP members laud tax bill

Dayton officials this week celebrated when they learned that Ohio Gov. John Kasich had nominated 17 of the 20 low-income Census tracts that the city submitted to the state for consideration.

States were able to nominate just 25 percent of their low-income Census tracts to the U.S. Treasury to be designated as opportunity zones. The federal submission deadline was Wednesday.

Large chunks of Dayton were nominated, including downtown, Historic Inner East, Old North Dayton, South Park, Wright-Dunbar, Wolf Creek, Pineview, Lakeview and other neighborhoods.

Investors with capital gains can defer and reduce their taxes by investing in opportunity zones, and capital gains earned in the area will not be subject to taxation, said Diane Shannon, Dayton’s director of the office of management and budget.

“We are very hopeful that we will” see new investment from the program, Shannon said.

In opportunity zones, investments in real estate or businesses can be sold after 10 years with no capital gains taxes, but investors also get a tax break on untaxed capital gains rolled into new opportunity zone funds, according to the Brookings Tax Policy Center.

RELATED: Is Dayton Arcade project at risk under new tax plan?

Investments in qualified opportunity zones that are held for at least 10 years can be sold without any capital gains taxes.

Investments held for five years will see a 10 percent reduction in taxes on the original unrealized capital gains, and those held for at least seven years will see a 15 percent tax reduction.

The biggest incentive for investors is to keep their unrealized capital gains in the opportunity funds for at least 10 years so they will not be taxed on the appreciation, experts said.

U.S. taxpayers have about $2.3 trillion in unrealized capital gains in stocks and mutual funds, according to the Economic Innovation Group.

The new opportunity funds will allow investors nationwide to pool resources and mitigate risk , the group said.

“If this isn’t part of every person’s estate planning, it should be, because this is a very lucrative program for those individuals and their long-term financial interests,” said Alison Goebel, executive director with the Greater Ohio Policy Center.

The opportunity zones program could be another source of financing for transformative projects like the Dayton Arcade, she said.

Goebel, however, said she is concerned that there are no restrictions on where investors can put their money nationwide, and that could mean investors pump their money into opportunity zones on the coasts that have stronger markets and may appear to carry less risk.

She said she hopes Ohio communities do not get overlooked by investors because they need as much access to capital and credit as possible.

Across the country, critics say the program uses old Census tract data and newly gentrified and affluent neighborhoods may be eligible for opportunity fund investments. Critics say some rich areas may benefit from the program and some projects that do not need help will get it.

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