Two F-16s from the 148th Fighter Wing will provide a ceremonial flyover before the start of this year’s 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon, continuing a longstanding tradition between the two community organizations.
The flyover, which is scheduled for 7:35 a.m. on Saturday, June 19, is an extremely rare treat for marathons in the United States.
“My study and analysis of other marathons show that they traditionally don’t have a flyover,” said 148th Public Affairs Specialist Audra Flanagan. “The 148th and Grandma’s Marathon have developed a very special partnership over the years to celebrate each other and celebrate our community. We really look forward to it.”
One of the pilots for this year’s flyover is Major David Betts, who is from Duluth and has fond memories of Grandma’s Marathon from his childhood.
“I remember passing out water with my mom at Lemon Drop Hill,” Betts said, “and then later cheering her on as she ran the half marathon. So now, to be able to pay tribute to runners past and present, I’m honored and humbled, and I just feel very thankful for this opportunity.”
148th Senior Airman Ben Churchill will also be singing the national anthem ahead of this year’s Grandma’s Marathon. The anthem will be just before the flyover, and the race is scheduled to start at 7:45 a.m.
The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend will be held June 17-19.