Museum of Aviation's marathon attracts record crowd

A total of 684 runners competed in the Museum of Aviation’s annual marathon and other running competitions at Robins Air Force Base.  It was the largest turnout in the event’s 10-year history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Raymond Crayton)

A total of 684 runners competed in the Museum of Aviation’s annual marathon and other running competitions at Robins Air Force Base. It was the largest turnout in the event’s 10-year history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Raymond Crayton)

ROBINS AFB, Ga. -- A total of 684 runners and walkers participated in the Museum of Aviation Foundation Marathon Saturday, making it the largest running event ever held at the Museum. The event hosted runners from 26 different U.S. states and Canada, including participants from Hawaii, California, Washington and New York.

"The race grows and grows every year and has become one of the widest attended races in the area," said Bob Dubiel, director of marketing for the Museum. "We were pleasantly surprised with how many people came from afar. It shows the race is growing in stature and reputation. Not only is it a good venue, but it's a well-organized race that runners like."

There were more than 100 participants in the full marathon, while the half marathon attracted 276 runners and the 5K walk/run saw 286 participants. In addition, four relay teams participated in the full marathon.

"This marathon is a great way for people to start off the New Year," said June Lowe, executive vice president of the Museum of Aviation Foundation, one of the race's main sponsors with the Robins Pacers Running Club. "We had a terrific pool of participants, a group of people scattered all over the country. We also had more than 120 volunteers from Robins. We had great support from the medical group, security forces and civil engineers."

Many of this year's participants were notable for one reason or another. For 64-year-old Phil Little from Apopka, Fla., it was his 223rd marathon. And Roger Keel, Valley, Ala., has participated in every Museum of Aviation marathon since its inception 10 years ago.

"The Museum of Aviation marathon was the first marathon I ever ran and I have just run it every year since," Mr. Keel said. "It's always well organized, the water stops are well placed and well manned and the volunteers do an excellent job. If I didn't run any other marathon, I'd still run this one."

Mr. Keel ran three marathons and a 50K race last year. He said despite getting a poor time this year due to the heat, the race is a good one for beginners because it isn't too challenging. "It's pretty flat," he said.

The marathon was the first event in the Museum's year-long celebration of 100 years of Aviation in Georgia. Runners left from and returned to the Museum and pursued a course on the streets of Robins. Brig. Gen. Brad Heithold, vice commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, shot off the gun starting the races.

Chief Master Sgt. Randolph Bofto, who is in his second year competing in the marathon on a relay team, said the large crowd was due in part to the nice weather.

"The weather was beautiful, especially compared to last year. It was a gorgeous day all around and not a bad place to be. That probably brought out more runners." Chief Bofto said.

Additional sponsors for the race were Houston Healthcare, Northrop Grumman, the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, Run Fit Sports, Piedmont Springs, Coca Cola, Publix and Services. Complete results for the marathon can be found at www.robinspacers.org.