In May 2014, more than 3,500 participants lined up to run in the first ever All American Marathon, Mike-to-Mike Half-Marathon, which included routes along Fayetteville and Fort Bragg streets. This year, the event’s organizers said they expect even more participants for the race, which is scheduled for March 22.
Race officials said they are hoping to build on the momentum created by last year’s inaugural event, which allowed civilian and military runners to be a part of history.
According to Eric Solarchick, this year’s race director, the event should feature more participants as the word spreads about last year’s race.
“Last year’s event was great,” he said. “We got a mixed interest with both, military and civilian participants. It turned out great and we’re hoping to build off of that. Many people are interested in this race because you get to run on Fort Bragg, which is one of our largest military installations. That’s the cool factor that’s associated with the All American Marathon.”
Solarchick said he expects the All American Marathon to grow similar to the renowned Army Ten-Miler, which takes place every October in Alexandria, Virginia. However if initial numbers are any indication, the marathon is already off to a great start. The Army Ten Miler began in 1985 with 1,379 participants. Last year’s All American Marathon began with 3,500 runners.
“We definitely expect that in four or five years, this event will reach higher numbers of possibly 8,000 to 10,000 runners, especially after we’ve run it consistently. I expect that the enthusiasm associated with the marathon will reach other runners within the region and possibly on a national scale. Right now, most of our runners are from the local area,” Solarchick said.
Currently, the marathon is in need of volunteers. Those who wish to volunteer and become a part of the event, can do so online, Solarchick said.
“They can go to our website, www.fortbraggmwr.com/allamericanmarathon and click on the volunteer tab,” he explained. “On that volunteer tab, they can click the jobs that are available and it will tell you the description of the job, the location and the time that you will be needed. It’s pretty easy, so you can click to accept the job and the site will allow you to enter your information and accept a brief waiver and they’re good to go. After that, the volunteer will undergo training and receive their “volunteer” shirt for the event.
“We’re looking for about 1,000 volunteers, so there are slots that are open and we welcome all volunteers,” he added.
For runners, Solarchick said it’s nearly the same process. They can go to the website and click on the “Register Now” button and it takes them into the process, which includes a link to active.com, which is where the actual registration is done.
“After they’re all signed up, at some time during the week before the race, they can come in and pick up their bib, their race bag and their set to go for the race on the following Saturday,” Solarchick said.
He urged community members to participate in the event as it is gaining momentum and becoming more well known.
“The benefit is that you get to run on one of the largest Army installations in the world. You also get to run alongside Soldiers and you will see historic Fort Bragg and downtown Fayetteville from a different aspect. It’s the best of both worlds,” he said.
According to the FMWR website, last year’s marathon started in downtown Fayetteville, at Festival Park. Festival Park is a four-acre concert/entertainment complex located in the heart of Fayetteville.
Racers lined up from Ray Avenue to Hay Street and ran through the heart of historic downtown Fayetteville past the Market House.
The race route then took runners up past Veterans Parks, and the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, which is the home to the historic Iron Mike Statue. Runners continued running along Morganton Road, through the Historic Haymount District of Fayetteville, traveling rolling hills until reaching the All-American Freeway.
For half-marathoners the race course in last year’s race ran approximately two miles onto Fort Bragg, via the All-American Freeway.
At this point, the half-marathoners were required to take Normandy Drive to finish the race at the Main Post Parade Field, which featured a scenic view of the post’s replica Iron Mike Statue.
After running on the All-American freeway for about four miles, our full marathon racers will enter the installation on Gruber road. The race course will then lead runners past the home of the 82nd Airborne Division and past Pope Airfield. Marathoners will finish their course with scenic views of U.S. Army Forces Command headquarters and past Fort Bragg’s Iron Mike statue, finishing at the Main Post Parade Field.
Officials said this year’s route has been modified slightly, but those changes are yet to be announced.