By Whitney Vickers
FAIRBORN — Air Force Marathon participants will take their marks and cross the finish line at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In between miles eight and 10, however, they will run through the Fairborn Fly Zone, which is the only place outside of WPAFB to participate as a spectator during the race.
Located in downtown Fairborn along Main Street and West Xenia Drive, it offers live music, special treatment for veterans, fresh coffee, mascot entertainment, breakfast wraps, sign-making supplies, opportunities to honor service members as well as transportation to and from the Fly Zone, start and finish lines. It will open 7:30-11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17.
Three thousand full marathon runners are expected to hit the pavement within the City of Fairborn. Fly Zone organizers Linda Riffle and Debbie Butner approach the event with goals in mind each year — honoring the military, being good hosts to out-of-town guests and showing support to runners.
“If you ask any runner, they always tell you that the best part of the race is people cheering them on,” Riffle said. “We try to be the best part of the race — get people downtown to create energy and excitement to help carry them (runners) through.”
Full marathon runners take off from the start line at 7:30 a.m. Twelve buses belonging to Fairborn City Schools will depart the start line at WPAFB at 7:35 a.m. to carry spectators to the Fly Zone. Later in the morning, the buses will depart from the Fly Zone in 15-minute increments back to the finish line.
For security purposes, the Fairborn Police has asked that attendees leave backpacks, coolers, suitcases and rolling bags, glass containers, cans, packages, large handbags, bulky items as well as flammable liquids, explosives, fireworks and fuels at home.
“The request for spectators to leave these items at home is being made in order to help us increase safety and security for both spectators and runners,” A flyer by the Fairborn Police said.
The Fairborn Senior Center, 325 N. Third Street, is also offering a local opportunity to be involved in marathon activities, as it will host a pasta dinner 6-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16. The unlimited dinner, costing $10 for adults and $5 for children 6-12 years old, will feature guest judges who will determine the tastiest pasta sauce. Proceeds will benefit the Fairborn Senior Center.