It’s not every day one has an opportunity to run on an airport runway, and when I heard about this race a couple of years ago, I desperately wanted to participate. Problem was, I was either out of town for another race or a football game when the race was being held. This year the stars aligned, and I was able to join in on the fun at the Dulles Day On the Runway 10K!
Bright and early Saturday morning Tracy and Erin arrived at my house to drive to the Smithsonian’s Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Museum. We arrive with plenty of time to mill around, hit the porta potties, and take a boat-load of pictures.
The last time I was in the museum was to see the Jame Bond movie Skyfall at the IMAX Theater. Prior to that, I spent several festive evenings attending Bill’s company’s Christmas parties over the course of several years. Looking around I envisioned exactly where the martini ice luge, the chocolate fountains, and even the milkshake bar had been located. None of that; however, would be touching my lips on this particular morning as I had a race to run!
We walked through the Udvar-Hazy Museum past planes, helicopters, and space artifacts. My two favorites are the Concorde and the Space Shuttle Discovery, neither of which I was able to see because the museum wasn’t open yet and it was roped off prohibiting our random wondering around.
Soon after getting outside we bumped into fellow blogger, Jenny, and stopped to say hello. She was waiting for another one of our running/blogging friends, Kathryn, but we didn’t see her until after the race and I failed to get a picture.
While goofing off with our MRTT friends we saw a pilot, but not just any pilot, a racing one! Not wanting to miss the opportunity to share this great race outfit with you guys, Erin and I headed over to meet him. He told us that he actually is a pilot for Southwest Air and that he’d lost a bet, thus the pilot’s costume in the race. He was happy to pose with us for a picture, and I’m glad we took the time to say hello.
At 7:15 we met up with our fellow MRTT mamas for a huge multi-chapter photo; and Erin had the fun idea for us all to hold our arms like plane wings. It looks like I’m coming in for a really tight turn to the right!
Once the picture was taken, those running the 5K had to quickly get ready to run, but those of us running the 10K had an additional ten minutes to wait. Once the 5K’ers cleared the starting area, we headed over to wait for our opportunity to run on the runway.
While running down the road toward the runway, a race photographer captured me screaming, “I can’t believe I’m running on a runway!”
We turned off of the service road and onto the wide-open, big, beautiful runway! Parked ahead, like a carrot on a stick, was my very own United Boeing 777.
I don’t think my friends were as fascinated as I was because when I paused to take a few pictures they continued on. Had I been alone, I would have stopped to walk closer to the plane and examine it more thoroughly.
I took a quick selfie and headed on my way.
We soon came up on the coolest skid marks I’ve ever seen. Eventually they were so close together that it looked like the concrete runway had been painted black. I captured one more running selfie and then sprinted ahead to catch my friends.
At this point in my story, I’m pausing for a moment of silence…..
The moment I’d anticipated…..
The race picture of a lifetime…..
Did. Not. Happen.
Last year Erin and Megan got this amazing picture during the race. A picture that I’ve coveted for a year; and finally, it was my chance to get one of my very own!
Except….. Just as Erin and I ran toward the photographer with our airplane arms in perfect position, he put his camera down. What!!!
Just in case, the photographer hadn’t captured us, we circled back around for a second go at it. Yes, we did! He had just switched cameras and aimed the second camera right at me as I swooshed by like a acrobatic plane. I’ve yet to be able to find those pictures…..
Thinking we’d just struck gold, we continued on with our race. By now all of our other friends had gone on, but Erin had promised to stick by my side no mater how many times I stopped for pictures.
Around the half way point, we passed the first of two water stops and I wondered what passengers on a plane flying overhead would think if they saw a line of people running on the runway. Unfortunately, and I’m sure for safety reasons, there were no active planes nearby.
For the rest of our race, we stopped whenever the mood struck for a picture.
We even stopped to congratulate our friend Carrie who, surprisingly, hadn’t stopped to take a single picture while running her 10K at a 7:16 pace and capturing third place in her age group. We saw her walking toward us after she finished, and thought, why not?
With about a half mile to go to the finish line, we continued our easy pace, loving every minute of our Saturday morning run.
I glided into the finish line and got one of my most fun finish line pictures ever. No grimacing, no watch stopping, no braking with the quads; just plain old unadulterated childlike joy!
I finished in 1:03:36 (10:15 pace) and felt great. My finish time put me 14th out of 33 in my age group.
Post race, we had fun comparing notes and checking out our medals. Yes, we got a medal for finishing a 10K, and so did those running the 5K. Not to complain, but as you can see, it’s got two runners on it, and not a plane. Just saying…..
Terri from Potomac River Running saw us and came over to say hello. Dulles Airport had organized the race, but PRR did the timing. Terri was on hand making sure everything went smoothly.
Eventually we made our way to the food tent to grab a water, banana, and granola bar before heading back home.
As we were heading out of Udvar-Hazy we got one more picture – just because…..
I had picked up my shirt and bib at packet pick-up on Thursday. In addition to race morning on site packet pick-up being available, it was held at the Dulles Airport Marriott on Thursday and Friday. It was an easy in-and-out no frills event.
We also scored a United Airlines bag and a Dulles Airport sticker.
I’m still hoping that at some point my missing plane picture might show up, but until then, I’ve always got Photoshop! Perhaps it’s worth a try.
Edited to add this photo that alert reader Jennifer found on the Dulles Plane Pull website (see comments below)!
- Have you ever run in a runway race?
- Where’s the coolest place you’ve raced?
- Did you race over the weekend?