Course for 5K goes over and under airport runway

By KAREN HOPPER USHER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Runners, lace up. In October, you’ll get the chance to race on an actual airport runway, and maybe duck under a 747.

Talk about creative land use. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport recently announced plans for a 5K race on Saturday, Oct. 7.

“It’s a bucket list-type thing,” said Tara Hernandez, the director of marketing and communications at the airport.

Post-9/11, people probably didn’t think they’d have opportunities to do stuff like that, she said.

The Grand Rapids airport isn’t the first to hold a 5K on a runway. Chicago Midway and Tampa International Airport have hosted races in the past.

And, while it technically wasn’t a race, Michigan State University’s basketball team ran all over a runway aboard the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in the Pacific Ocean off San Diego when it lost a game there against the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2011.

In Grand Rapids, the race will take place on the airport’s general aviation runway. That’s the runway used by private planes. The two commercial runways will stay open.

Runners will have a chance of running underneath a 747 as it lands.

The route will also take runners underneath the runway through a tunnel.

“We are giving West Michigan a chance to experience our facility like never before,” Jim Gill, the president and CEO of the airport, said in a news release. “This event will not only encourage family time, but it is promoting a healthy lifestyle and aviation, as well as benefitting a wonderful local charity.”

Proceeds will go to Make-A-Wish Michigan.

The race will come soon after beautification and functional improvements at the airport, although the race route won’t be near those projects, Hernandez said. Renovations to the airport’s viewing park are underway, and it’s expected to reopen in May. Fans will be able to see the race from the viewing area.

A consolidated security area construction project, which includes a “green” roof with plants, should also be done by the time of the race, Hernandez said.

Runners, however, won’t have to go through a traditional Transportation Security Administration checkpoint. Instead, there will be security around the route perimeter. The details are still being worked out with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration, Hernandez said.

Race registration is $28 and includes a T-shirt, snacks, drinks and giveaways. Top finishers will get awards. A fun run/walk is cheaper and shorter at $15 a person for a 1-mile route. Rates for both events increase in April and September. Register online at http://triviumracing.com/event/grr-runway-5k/ .

Karen Hopper Usher writes for Great Lakes Echo.