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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

SOURCE: RUNNING USA

Signal 99 dropped, officers report shots fired in Moraine

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:52 AM

UPDATE @5:51 a.m.

Officers have reportedly canceled a “signal 99,” a county-wide request for officers to respond. We are working to find out additional details.

A medic has been requested to the scene.

>> Montgomery County Jail Bookings

FIRST REPORT

Officers have dropped a Signal 99 and have reported shots fired in Moraine.

A signal 99 is a county-wide request for officers to respond.

The incident was reported around 5:45 a.m. at an apartment complex on Pinnacle Park Drive.

This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Report: Tech companies to lobby for ‘Dreamers’ to stay in US

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:47 AM

Protesters favor
Protesters favor "Dreamers" to stay in the United States.(Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Nearly two dozen companies in technology -- including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other industries -- are planning to launch a coalition to demand legislation that would allow young, undocumented immigrants a path to permanent residency, Reuters reported.

>> Read more trending news

Citing documents, Reuters reported that the Coalition for the American Dream intends to ask Congress to pass bipartisan legislation this year that would allow these immigrants, referred to as “Dreamers,” to continue working in the United States.

Other companies planning to take part include Intel, Uber, Univision, and Marriott International, according to the documents.

Intel, Uber and Univision confirmed their membership, but the other companies did not immediately comment. It is possible that plans to launch the group could change.

“We’re pleased to join with other organizations in urging Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers,” Intel spokesman Will Moss said in a statement.

Matthew Wing, a spokesman for Uber, said, “Uber joined the Coalition for the American Dream because we stand with the Dreamers. We’ve also held town halls, provided legal support and launched an online Dreamer Resource Center for any of our drivers.”

The push for this legislation comes after President Donald Trump’s September decision to allow the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to expire in March. That program allows approximately 900,000 illegal immigrants to obtain work permits.

Man arrested for threatening to blow of Federal Building downtown

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:57 AM

Jonahtan Durrough/Contributed
Jonahtan Durrough/Contributed

A man is in Montgomery County Jail this morning after he threatened to blow up the Federal Building on West Second Street Thursday morning, according to a Dayton police report.

According to the report, Jonathan Durrough, 41,  threatened to blow up the federal building and became combative toward security after being asked to leave.

>> Crime news from the Miami Valley

The security officer took Durrough into custody and alerted the threat to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Durrough attempted to spit on an officer while being questioned by an officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to the report.

>> WATCH: Miami Valley’s Most Wanted

Durrough was booked into jail on charges of felonious assault and aggravated menacing. The threat is under review by the federal prosecutor’s office.

UPDATE: Salvation Army to add $4.3M expansion to Kroc Center land

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 3:27 PM

Soccer field and amphitheater coming to Salvation Army Kroc Center

Just seven years after building the $40 million Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in North Dayton, the Salvation Army plans to expand across the street with an amphitheater and soccer field to fill the growing needs of children in the neighborhood.

The Salvation Army wants to begin construction in the spring on the $4.3 million expansion and open the field in 2019, with the 1000 N. Keowee St. center expanding across Webster Street onto land it bought from Dayton Public Schools.

The Dayton center is one of 25 Kroc centers built across the country in disadvantaged neighborhoods, the legacy of McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc, who died in 2003. She bequeathed $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army to create places where children and families could find recreational, educational and cultural activities otherwise beyond their reach.

RELATED: Tour the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center

Major Stanley Senak said the regulation soccer field will cater to the interests of the children they work with, including the growing immigrant population in the area. Staff had previously spotted kids playing with a makeshift soccer field in the area, which helped prompt the idea.

“In this community we have a larger immigrant population and they play soccer,” Senak said. “We were looking at what would meet the needs in this community.”

The project will be funded with Salvation Army resources from philanthropist and McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc’s donation to the national organization, which also helped fund the seven-year-old Dayton community center.

RELATED: Opening of Kroc Center called ‘a great day in Dayton’

The center has about 120 children participate in its after school program but also has additional child focused programs and families that it helps at Christmas, with emergency utility assistance and other family focused programs

Jerry Bowling III, president of the McCook Field Neighborhood Association, said he was excited when he learned the Kroc Center had plans for the empty lot and will bring more options for event space.

“The fact that that land is being used is huge, plus it also expands the capabilities of the Kroc Center and the Salvation Army to serve the community,” he said.

While the Dayton center has plenty of indoor space, like a large worship center and 128-seat movie theater, Business Administrator Tim Erlandson said they could use more outdoor space for recreation.

LOCAL: Investment breathes new life into unique Dayton artists’ space

There is room at the original 17 acre site to tear down more trees and develop more of the green space, but the Salvation Army decided they wanted to keep the green space on the original campus. The property across the street gave them the opportunity to expand and maintain the green space on the original campus.

The site will also have an amphitheater where people can bring their lawn chairs and attend concerts and events. Senak said they have “big dreams” for the new outdoor event area and want it to be a place where neighbors can gather for events.

“It will be something where the neighborhood can come and have a fun time,” Senak said.

There also will be a building constructed at the end of the lot that can house the Salvation Army’s mobile feeding canteen and can be used as a warehouse, bathrooms for the center and a concession area.

RELATED: Popular tax credits aiding projects like Dayton Arcade could be history

The soccer field will be able to serve as a lacrosse field. The project will also include a walking track wrapping around the field, a splash pad, and outdoor pickleball courts. Senak said interest in pickleball has picked up in Dayton and its the fastest growing sport in America.

“It’s really picked up on our indoor courts,” he said.

By the numbers: Dayton Kroc Center

• $4.3 million expansion project

• $40 million original investment in the center

• 120 children enrolled in after school program