Aviation News

April 18, 2013

JFK Runway Run Attracts Serious Runners, Aviation Enthusiasts to JFK’s Runways

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Written by: Jason Rabinowitz
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A Delta Boeing 737 on short final for runway 31R as JFK Runway Run participants run down runway 4R.

Last weekend, the JFK Rotary Club held their annual JFK Runway Run, bringing out serious runners to the runways of JFK International Airport, as well as some quite slow aviation enthusiasts. The 5k race, which helps raise money for scholarships and community functions, presents a rare opportunity for the average citizen to be escorted air-side without triggering all sorts of alarms. The race dates back to 1972 and was originally a 10k race, but was changed to a 5k race in 2002. This year’s race turned out to be quite a gathering of aviation enthusiasts, as many members of the NYCAviation community joined the race.

For this year’s race, participants were bussed to a staging area adjacent to the Port Authority Fire Training Center, where the race route was revealed to be the entire length of runway 22L/4R and back. During the race, the active runways were the 31s, meaning arrivals crossed directly overhead, while departures taxied right by runners on their way to runway 31L.

Aviation enthusiasts "running" on runway 22L/4R. (Photo by Mark Szemberski )

Aviation enthusiasts “running” on runway 22L/4R. (Photo by Mark Szemberski )

To make things even more distracting for the intentionally slow runners, landing aircraft were presented with some hefty cross winds at times, resulting in some truly fantastic sights. Several aircraft were crabbing heavily as they zoomed over the runners’ heads, dancing around and bouncing as they touched down, making for some fantastic photos.

While serious runners were seemingly unfazed by the aircraft activity, aviation enthusiasts who signed up for the race clocked record shattering slow race times, sometimes reversing course to line up a photo. Yours truly placed 962 out of 963 total runners, with friend of NYCAviation Cynthia from Jaunted finishing last, a mere six seconds behind me at 1hr19m27s. For reference, Alan Wells of Orlando, FL, finished the race first, in 17 minutes 3 seconds. Yea, we were a bit distracted.


Towards the end of the race, when the serious runners (and even serious walkers) finished an hour ahead of us, the Port Authority and security vehicles kept pace directly behind us, as if to herd lost sheep back into their pen. Had the Port Authority not kept us moving, there was a slight (large) chance we would have stayed out there all day. Once back at the staging area, some prizes were raffled off, and NYCAviation members happened to clean house. Forum Member Eric Dunetz (SouthpawCapture) won two round trip tickets anywhere JetBlue flies, while member Mark (Zee71) won a blender, which he will hopefully use to make us all some aviation themed drinks.

It isn’t too often that the public is allowed to stand on the runway of a major international airport as a Boeing 777-300ER taxis just feet away. The JFK Runway Run not only provides fantastic scenery for aviation enthusiasts, but also raises money for great causes, a win-win.

About the Author

Jason Rabinowitz



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  • patrick647

    Can’t believe I missed this! Will they do it again next year? If so, when?

  • Patrick, they do it every year around the same time. No guarantee what RY will be used. Sometimes it is just taxiways and parts of a RY. This year was 22L down and back. 5k in total.

  • This sounds like a pretty cool event. Allows people to go on the airport grounds, get some exercise and raise money for a good cause. Keep it up guys.