A few weeks ago, I ran the Run the Runway 5K at the Charleston Air Force Base.
Even though I’m on #Team5K this summer, I wasn’t planning to run this race since I had Race the Landing the Thursday night before. It seemed fun, and I’ve read lots of cool reviews of runway runs from other bloggers, but I let the registration deadline pass and planned for a Saturday long run. The organizers extended the registration and kept the price the same, and Cindy talked me into another 5K. I’m easy to convince!
Since this race was held on the Charleston AFB, things were a little confusing and security was tight. I wasn’t sure if we could pick up our packets the day of the race, but since I was off work already on Friday for a vacation day, I went to Fleet Feet to pick mine up just in case. You could pick it up the same day, but it wasn’t a big deal since I was already in Mt. Pleasant to enjoy lunch with Clay.
Race morning arrived and I left pretty early for North Charleston. I’ve only been on the base once, and that was for a party one week after I moved here in 2012. In fact, I rarely go to North Charleston except to shop. I tried googling directions like the packet said, but ended up getting lost in a part of town I wasn’t familiar with and called Terrylynn to give me directions to the start. She stayed on the phone with me until I was on the road that led me to the AFB- whew!
Next, I got on base and showed my ID 362973 times, which is how things work on a base and a foolproof strategy for keeping bandit runners away. I found Steve and Lisa near the start, and we decided to do a quick warm-up, planning to run to the white towers we saw beyond the planes.
About 100 meters into our run, we crossed a “red line”, and the Charleston AFB Military Police came out of nowhere and told us we could not warm up there. The police were nice about it, knowing we were aloof about all things Air Force, and pointed out another road for us to warm up.
Congrats to Mark, who won overall and received a piece of the runway, for documenting our encounter with the military police.
With an 8 AM race start + heat + no shade + concrete, this race got ugly quickly. Temperatures were right around 80, but it felt much hotter with no breeze! Most of us ran the Floppin’ Flounder the Saturday before and remarked about how much hotter this 5K was.
The course ran around those infamous red lines, and it was easy to stay on course. Since there were armed Air Force personnel as course monitors, we had no choice. No one tried to cheat or cut the course, and I have never felt safer at a 5K race.
The course had a few issues. First, the Mile 3 mile marker was about .2-.25 from the finish line (much too far). Second, the course only had one water stop, which was after the 2 mile mark. I felt like a race with 200+ people, many of whom were families or walkers, they really needed a water stop at Mile 1 and Mile 2. Fortunately, we didn’t have any heat-related health issues.
I didn’t do the best job of pacing this race, and my tired legs bothered me as much as the heat did. In two weeks, I ran two Race the Landing 5Ks, Floppin Flounder 5K, and this race, so my legs were dead at the end. Admittedly, running four 5K races in two weeks probably isn’t smart. I also wore my iPod during the race, which I rarely do, but it meant I could not hear things going on around me. I couldn’t hear people coming up behind me, including the three ladies who passed me during the last .1-.15 of the race.
I finished in 22:43, placing third in the 20-29 age group thanks to the nose-dive crash of Flight #99 at Mile 3. I have zero kick and seeing three ladies pass me that late in the race, that’s getting beat, regardless of placing.
After the race, Steve and I went back down the course to cool down, where we found a bunch of friends including some that were running with kids and pacing them. The kids were so cute and since there weren’t a lot of kids at the race, most of them placed and had a lot of fun. We also thanked the course marshals and since they were all Air Force, thanked them for being on the course but also for their service.
At the awards ceremony, I received a really fun Run the Runway 5K medal. It’s a bronze medal and one of the nicer ones since it has the race’s logo on it and my placement on the back. The after party was simple with granola bars, bananas, and water, but we all got to go onboard the C-17 and take pictures, something the general public doesn’t get to do often.
All the kids loved sitting in the cockpit, and some of them were really enjoying the whole Air Force experience!
The race shoots for Flag Day weekend, so it will be in June next year. While I wish it was during a cooler month to attract more runners, I know the organizers have to deal with the Air Force on the date/course. Seeing the C-17 up close and running a different course was a fun experience, and I’m glad I got that experience.
Race Name: Run the Runway 5K
Location: Charleston Air Force Base (North Charleston, SC)
Date and Time: June 13, 2015, 8 AM
Terrain: Flat, concrete, no shade, runway
Entry fee: $20 + $1.75 swipe fee
Swag: Workout towel, chapstick, reusable shoe bag/pack (no shirt)
Post-race Food: Bananas, oranges, granola bars, water
Weather: Sunny, 80 degrees, 70% humidity