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

Three dead following small airplane crash in Franklin County, Ind.

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 3:43 AM
Updated: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 7:41 AM

Credit:  Contributed WCPO
Credit: Contributed WCPO

A small airplane crashed Saturday near Hamburg Road in Franklin County, Indiana, resulting in three deaths according to Indiana State Highway Patrol and our partners at WCPO. 

RELATED: See more trending stories on WHIO.com

Indiana State Highway Patrol reports the plane originated in Kansas City, Missouri and stopped in Columbus, Indiana to refuel, before taking off for its final destination of Maryland.

The plane was privately owned and ISP reports that three people were inside the plane at the time of the crash around 9 p.m. Saturday behind a home on Hamburg Road.

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Police are still working to identify the victims and the investigation is being handed over to the FAA. Police say the initial cause of the crash has been attributed to engine failure. 

One dog also died in the crash, while a second dog survived and was evaluated by a veterinarian, according to our news partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.

We will continue to bring you the latest updates in this developing story. 

Rain returns today, temperatures may reach 50 degrees this week

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 7:59 AM

Rain is expected to move into the Dayton area Sunday, then warm temperatures stay with us this week.

More clouds are expected today with highs in the lower, maybe middle 40s, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar. Rain showers are expected to move in, with the best chances coming this afternoon.

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Rain showers expected today 
  • Few lingering showers possible Monday 
  • Mild temperatures stay this week 

TONIGHT: A few spotty showers may linger this evening, but for the most part, we should see more dry time. Temperatures will be steady overnight in the middle 30s. 

TRACK RAIN WITH WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Storm Center 7 Weather Graphic

MONDAY: A few lingering showers are possible Monday, especially for the first part of the day. Highs will be in the middle 40s. 

TUESDAY: We get up to near 50 degrees Tuesday under mostly cloudy skies. 

WEDNESDAY: Partly cloudy skies are on tap for your Wednesday with highs in the lower 40s. 

Storm Center 7 Weather Graphic
THURSDAY: We’re back in the upper 40s Thursday under partly cloudy skies.

Suicide bomber kills 7 in Pakistani church

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 7:25 AM

Methodist church in Pakistan.
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Methodist church in Pakistan.(Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Seven people were killed and more than two dozen were injured Sunday when a suicide bomber attacked a church packed with more than 400 worshippers during a service in Pakistan, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

A Methodist church in Quetta was targeted by two attackers, but only one was able to denonate his vest, according to Sarfaraz Bugti, the interior minister of the Balochistan province. The second attacker was shot by a church security guard before he could detonate his explosives, Bugti said.

The civilians were killed during the blast and in the intense firefight that followed, according to Moazzam Jah Ansari, the provincial police chief. 

Dayton man shot in hand during attempted robbery

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 6:06 AM

A 29-year-old Dayton man was shot in the hand Friday night around 9:40 p.m. during a robbery in the 2100 block of North Main Street according to a Dayton Police report.

RELATED: See more trending stories on WHIO.com

Police were called to Miami Valley Hospital after the gunshot victim was admitted to the emergency room for a non-life threatening gunshot wound to his right hand. 

The victim reported he was walking in an alley on his way back to his mother's home when a man in a black ski mask showed a silver handgun and said, "Give it up." 

The victim said he tried to disarm the suspect and as he reached for the gun he was shot and the suspect fled. 

The suspect was described as standing 5 feet, 10 inches tall, wearing a blue coat with white buttons and black shoes with a reflective or illuminated logo. 

Dayton Police are still investigating this crime and if you have any information you are asked to call 937-333-2677