Armstrong Air & Space Museum Director Chris Burton, dressed as an astronaut, welcomes runners across the line at the annual Run to the Moon race held during the annual Summer Moon Festival in Wapakoneta.
Each year, the number of competitors for the Run to the Moon continues to grow and this year organizer Amy Kentner says she hopes to attract even more to the one-day event.
The Run to the Moon will maintain its space theme with songs playing on the course from a 2001 Space Odyssey, Star Wars and other movies as well as news clips from the 1969 Apollo XI liftoff and moon landing to attract runners.
“Before the start of this year’s race we have astronaut Greg Johnson and U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Joseph Lanni, and it is really neat to have him participate because he is the director of Lockheed-Martin in Dayton, Ohio, and they make parts for the space program, and he is a test pilot for the F-22,” Kentner said, explaining both will sign a participant’s shirt at the race. “As far as the race goes, we are sponsored by Dave’s Running, who are bringing up a huge blow-up for the beginning and end of the race and this makes it more of an experience rather than just a race itself.”
Johnson is bringing his 15-year-old daughter Rachel to the race.
“After the 1-mile fun run, we are going to have the kids and the parents come under the big tent and she is going to give a talk about what it is like to be the daughter of an astronaut,” Kentner said. “The kids should be able to relate to that and fits in nicely with the theme this year.
The Run to Moon consists of three races including a 10K race starting at 8:15 a.m., a 5K race starting at 8:30 a.m. and a 1-mile fun run starting at 9:30 a.m. on July 20. All three races attracted more than 650 runners last year. Kentner expects more this year.
The 10K runs also can take part in a Triple Crown event — the race is associated with the Troy Strawberry 10K, which was held June 2, and the Minster Oktoberfest, which will be held in October.
Rachel Johnson, who plans to run the 10K race, is serving as an ambassador for the 1-mile fun run.
Along with the speech, Kentner added another aspect to the run — a band for the run.
“They are really called Chameleon, but for our race they are called ‘Geeks on the Moon,’” Kentner said. “This is a family affair for Greg Johnson because this is actually his brother’s band. I hear Greg Johnson is going to make an appearance on the keyboards so that should be special.”
Fifty-five signs again dot the race and provide information about lift-off and landing of Apollo space flights as well as other.
Registration for the race includes admission into the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.
The drink Tang is being offered to runners, which Kentner termed as the Gatorade of the space program during the 1960s and 1970s when Armstrong went into space and landed on the moon.
Fruit, drinks and other items have been donated for the race on the 44th anniversary of the moon landing.
“This is just a great event,” Kentner said, “and it is just super fun.”