They could have called it “The Space Race,” but somehow they came up with an even better name.
Instead, the Space Force’s official service-sponsored 10 mile race this weekend is called:
We love it and we want the t-shirt.
And the race’s route lives up to its moonshot name, as does the swag you get for signing up.
Held at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, the route runs close by both the white sand beaches of the Atlantic Ocean and past a long list of launch sites from the early days of the real space race, when NASA launched astronauts into orbit on ever larger rockets in a quest to reach the moon before their counterparts in Russia.
Much of the race is down ICBM Road (!), past and around six launch sites, including Launch Complex 19 and 14. LC-14 was the site from which John Glenn’s Friendship 7 launched, becoming the first American to orbit the Earth. LC-19 was the site of 27 major launches, including 10 manned Titan II/Gemini missions (the larger pads where the moon-bound crews Apollo lifted off are just north of base on the Kennedy Space Center).
The finish is at Cape Canaveral’s historic lighthouse, which generations of astronauts used to guide their rockets past the cape during night launches(jk).
Also, it should be about 70 degrees at race time this Saturday.
As for the swag bag, there’s a cool t-shirt, of course, but also a NASA mission-style patch for the race that features a 1950s rocket that was a predecessor to modern cruise missiles.
Though ‘mandatory fun’ events like base-wide runs are a staple of military life, the ‘T Minus’ race not is not that. Instead, it’s the second annual race sponsored by the Space Force and hosted by Space Launch Delta 45 (a delta is roughly equivalent to a wing or group in the Air Force, usually serving as the major tenant of a base). The race joins four other similar races sponsored by other armed service branches.
None look near as fun as the T Minus 10 Miler.
The Air Force Marathon is in Dayton, Ohio while the Army 10 Miler and Marine Corps Marathon both begin and end in Arlington, Virginia, at the Pentagon and USMC Memorial. The Coast Guard Marathon is in Elizabeth City, NC, an hour’s drive from the nearest Interstate freeway.
All offer nice enough scenery — or at least ample parking — but none promise historic NASA launch sites or beach-side ocean breezes.
But the five races are connected by a new program this year, called the Armed Forces Series Challenge, allows runners to test their endurance to finish all five. Anyone who completes all five sanctioned races — in any year and any order — will be eligible for a special medal.
But you have to run the T Minus 10 Miler to get the cool patch.
The patch includes this year’s “featured rocket”(!) the XSM-64 Navaho. The XSM-64 was a 50s-era supersonic intercontinental cruise missile intended to eventally carry a nuclear warhead and with a range of about 5,000 miles. It never got past the experimental stage but technology developed for the XSM-64 led to modern cruise missiles.
The T Minus 10 Miler checks all our boxes for a great race: cool t-shirt, cool swag, beautiful scenery, historic course and great weather. In fact, we can spot just one flaw: the race finishes about five miles from the starting line.
To get runners back to their cars, race organizers say, the base will run shuttles.
Ya know… space shuttles.
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