AKRON, Ohio - The 15,000 runners pounding the pavement for the Akron Marathon can be assured of one thing this year: The weather conditions won't be as challenging as the steamy temperatures that deployed Ohio Army National Guard members will face as they take part in a "shadow race" 6,721 miles away.
"The conditions will be hot. The sun will go down about a half hour after the race starts. Temperatures will dip below 100 degrees at that point. Some runners will take until midnight to finish," said Lt. Kevin McGee, who organized the simultaneous marathon at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
McGee, a married father from Akron, has participated in the Akron Marathon multiple times, but he's currently serving his first tour of duty with the 371st Sustainment Brigade based out of Springfield, Ohio.
He contacted the organizers of the Akron Marathon and requested support for a shadow run in the desert. The response was more than he could have imagined.
The soldiers in Kuwait will get the full marathon treatment. A start and finish line is being shipped to Kuwait and all of the runners will receive medals, special T-shirts and backpacks-- all at no cost.
"It's hard for me to explain how much this event, planning for this event, training for this event has raised the moral and the spirits of the soldiers from Ohio," McGee told NewsChannel5 during a satellite interview from Kuwait.
Akron Marathon Race Director Brian Polen felt giving the guard members "a little taste of home" was the least the event could do.
"What it comes down is the sacrifice they're making. If they had their way, of course, they'd be home with their families. They'd be free to run a marathon anytime they wanted, but the don't have that," Polen said.
McGee estimated about 300 runners will hit the sandy trail "within the wire" of Camp Arifjan. About 100 of them will run the marathon, half marathon or marathon relay. The rest will run a 5K race.
The marathon in Kuwait will start around 5:30 p.m. Those running the full marathon will run a 6-mile-loop four times and then finish the race on a track.
Video and pictures from the overseas run will be posted on the Jumbotron at Canal Park in Akron, so that spectators and finishers can watch the military members running.
McGee will upload the images to the Akron Marathon's Instagram account. Race officials hope to begin transferring some of the pictures and video to the scoreboard around 10:30 a.m.
"The Akron Marathon has treated us like running royalty out here at Camp Arifjan," McGee said.
Other companies that made donations for the shadow run include Brooks, Maxwell Medals, Goodyear and Power Media.
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