WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
If current figures are an accurate predictor, the 2008 U.S. Air Force Marathon appears well on its way to shattering last year's registration record of more than 6,700 runners and could approach the 10,000 mark.
As of June 13, the total number of runners registered for the 12th annual event stood at 2,326. That compares with 1,013 total registered runners at the same time a year ago, or about a 130 percent increase.
According to Molly Louden, marathon director, enhanced marketing and publicity efforts combined with strong word-of-mouth from previous marathon participants is helping fuel the surge in registration.
"For the past three years, we have stepped up marketing," Ms. Louden said. "We've consistently attended regional marathon expos and advertised in national magazines.
"Also, word of mouth is a huge factor, and the marathon has received fantastic reviews from past runners on running blogs like marathonguide.com."
Registration numbers are confirming high interest in both the full and half marathon. The June 13 figures show 1,098 runners registered for the full marathon, compared to 512 for the same time last year; the half marathon has received 885 registrants, compared to 333 for the same date a year ago.
Ms. Louden said runners planning to participate in this year's marathon are encouraged to register early, especially considering the significant increase in registrants to date.
"We are encouraging runners to register early online not only to save money, but to ensure they get into the event," Ms. Louden said. "This is the first year we might have to close registration due to the number of registrants. It is very exciting, but our numbers are nearly triple what they were last year. For planning purposes, we will close registration if we get near the 10,000 mark."
A prominent change to this year's marathon is the phase-out of the four-person relay teams and the introduction of a 10k. Runners registering for the 10k can do so as individuals or can run as part of a four-person team.
Each 10k team member will start the race at the same time and will end at the same location. By including a four-person 10k team option in place of the marathon four-person relay, marathon officials sought to eliminate challenges such as team members having to wait for buses or searching for teammates on the course.
For the second straight year, the marathon's 5k will take place the day before the marathon on Sept. 19 at Wright State University. According to Ms. Louden, the marathon, half marathon and 10k taking place Sept. 20 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will be limited to 10,000 runners, and the 5k at Wright State University will be limited to 2,000 runners.
For more information or to register for the marathon, visit www.usafmarathon.com