5K on the Runway

When an opportunity strikes, you need to recognize it and jump on it. And sometimes beg others to help you make it happen. And stress a little when you realize it might not happen. And take a leap of faith and start whatever is necessary to make it happen, even knowing full well that it may not. And if everything works out, you say a prayer of praise and thanks to God because after all that, it happened.

At least, that’s the backstory of the coolest run I’ve ever done.

IMG_5869Early in February I noticed on Facebook that a friend had registered for a “5K on the Runway” with her running group. I dug a little deeper, and I discovered that our local airport was holding the event on a newly built runway before it was finally opened to regular air traffic. I immediately knew that I had to be a part of it, but I didn’t see how it was going to happen because it fell on the same day Jay was going to be out of town. Go figure. A couple of friends offered to help me make it happen, but in the end my sweet mother-in-law stepped in and took the girls – which made for a bizarre night of loneliness – but also meant that I could do my run! 🙂

The race was to start at 7a, and everyone was required to be parked by 6a because the airport had strict restrictions on when the event had to be finished and everyone had to be off the runway. It was my understanding that the first plane would land on the new runway within a few hours of the event’s completion.

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We had to wait outside the gates for a while until the airport was ready to let us all on the runway. Once they did, the huge mass of participants flooded through and headed to the start line, a bit of a walk from the gates. Unfortunately, due to the lack of parking, the walk from the parking areas to the gates, and then the walk from the gates to the starting line, the race was a little delayed as the event organizers waited for the last stragglers to get there. It’s a little hard to explain, but to get to the start line we had to walk some of the actual 3.1 mile course where the race would finish, so they couldn’t start the run until everyone made it to the front.

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It didn’t take too long though, and then we were off! It was pretty insane being on the runway. We weren’t all that close to the planes or airport buildings, but seriously, it was still super cool being able to take pictures like this:

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And while we were running we could see planes taking off, which was also really incredible.

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The course looped back on itself a couple of times. We started out heading west, then made a U-turn and headed east for a while before making another u-turn and heading back towards the finish line to the west. I always enjoy places in these runs that give me a good perspective of just how many people are a part of it – like reaching the top of a hill and being able to look down at all the runners in front of me – and the last u-turn was definitely good for that!

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The weather was looking a bit gloomy, which motivated us to get to the finish line a little quicker. Just as we crossed the finish line the rain started to fall, but after a hot run it was a welcome shower. 🙂 I was fortunate enough to get a picture of myself crossing the finish line, but only because I ran into a sweet friend while on the course (the girl in black) and when a friend of hers took her picture she noticed I was in the shot too and sent it to me.

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I ran the race with my friend Jen again (she’s run a few other races with me), and also met up with another sweet friend and my former college roommate, Christine. These runs can be fun even if you’re alone, but I highly recommend meeting up with friends if you can – it’s so much more fun!

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 8.17.10 PMIt was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime run, one I’ll never forget. Anytime I pass by the airport I think to myself, “I ran 3.1 miles down there!” I loved every minute of it, and it was totally worth all the trouble we went through to get there. Actually, the only thing I didn’t like was the free t-shirt. Doesn’t it look like the plane is about to land and everyone is running from it out of fear? 😀 😀 😀

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